Advertisement

Q. Is high-fructose corn syrup bad for you?

By Joyce Hendley, September/October 2007

Is high-fructose corn syrup bad for you?

A. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a manmade sweetener that’s found in a wide range of processed foods, from ketchup and cereals to crackers and salad dressings. It also sweetens just about all of the (regular) soda Americans drink. HFCS used in foods is between 50 to 55 percent fructose—so chemically, it’s virtually identical to table sugar (sucrose), which is 50 percent fructose. Metabolic studies suggest our bodies break down and use HFCS and sucrose the same way.

Yet, after HFCS began to be widely introduced into the food supply 30-odd years ago, obesity rates skyrocketed. And because the sweetener is so ubiquitous, many blame HFCS for playing a major role in our national obesity epidemic. As a result, some shoppers equate HFCS with “toxic waste” when they see it on a food label. But when it comes right down to it, a sugar is a sugar is a sugar. A can of soda contains around nine teaspoons of sugar in the form of HFCS—but, from a biochemical standpoint, drinking that soda is no worse for you than sipping home-brewed iced tea that you’ve doctored with nine teaspoons of table sugar or an equivalent amount of honey.

Even Barry Popkin, Ph.D., a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who previously suggested, in an influential 2004 paper, a possible HFCS-obesity link, stresses that the real obesity problem doesn’t lie just with HFCS. Rather, it’s the fact that sugars from all sources have become so prevalent in our food supply, especially in our beverages. He scoffs at the “natural” sweeteners sometimes added to upscale processed foods like organic crackers and salad dressings. “They all have the same caloric effects as sugar,” he explains. “I don’t care whether something contains concentrated fruit juice, brown sugar, honey or HFCS. The only better sweetener option is ‘none of the above.’”

At EatingWell, it’s our philosophy to keep any sweeteners we use in our recipes to a minimum—and likewise, to limit processed foods with added sugars of any type, including HFCS. We recommend you do the same.

Did you know?

The corn syrup found on supermarket shelves is only a distant cousin to the high-fructose corn syrup used commercially. Both start by processing corn starch with enzymes and/or acids, but the HFCS process is much more complex and results in a different chemical structure.

Download a Free Cookbook with Our Best Healthy Dessert Recipes!

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Weight loss is very simple. Calories consumed > Calories used = weight gain
Calories consumed < Calories used = weight loss

The formula is relatively simple. Americans consume way to many calories, and lead a sedentary lifestyle. In the 70's you had three channels and kids played outside. Now most children watch hours of T.V. and play hours of video games. Same for adults.

Anonymous

09/22/2010 - 10:17pm

Just don't eat it! Some many things have high-fructose corn syrup today, that's the reason for obesity. Rice Crispies used to not have it but now it does because high-frutose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar. Imagine the obesity population in 20 years or so, it will be out of this world!

Anonymous

09/04/2010 - 10:59am

I believe if you were to eat small amounts of it, it's not that harmful but most americans take in more than you should. So they have figured out that, that may be whats causing americas, Cancer, & Obesity so the really only important and wise thing to do is just not eat it.
-Anonymous

Anonymous

08/25/2010 - 5:11pm

i say eat you only live once and how do we really know what is and is not healthy now days people is getting poisoned from a bag of lettuce come on now just pray more and it will be ok god is good!!!

Anonymous

08/20/2010 - 5:01pm

The real problem with most of these comments is that they do not document what they are saying. Some of the common sense statements of course do not need documentation, such as, eat less sugar no matter what type. There is however some real evidence that fructose can be bad for you. It has to do with cancer.

Please see: http://www.reuters.com/article/idAFN0210830520100802

Here are just a few excerpts from this Reuters article.

Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles found.

They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.

"These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation," Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.

Anonymous

08/18/2010 - 11:06am

HFCS is not the same as natural sugars however, the American food industry wants you to believe so. HFCS has actually been scientifically proven to excel cancer cell multiplication.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0210830520100802

Anonymous

08/10/2010 - 5:51pm

raw honey= good for you!!! better than all of the above! check it out and see for your self! royal jelly great to.

Anonymous

07/17/2010 - 12:07pm

I've recently been reading books about eating healthy and researching on High Fructose Corn Syrup. This is what I’ve found: HFCS started being used in many processed foods in the 1970's since the 1970's men increased their daily calorie consumption by 7 percent, women increased theirs 22 percent. I found that weird that it increased so much, till I read an article that said HFCS goes straight into your liver and releases enzymes that store fat. It then went on to say that your body doesn't produce as much insulin, which keeps your body from realizing it's full. So is HFCS partly to blame for men and women’s increased daily calorie consumption? Possibly. Everyone says to eat it in moderation, but I read that the average human consumes more than 60 pounds of HFCS in a year. Just some information to consider.

btw. My sources were
Eat this not that the supermarket survival guide and
http://www.noweightgaincookbooks.com/worse_than_sugar.htm

Anonymous

07/15/2010 - 7:22pm

get over sugar, sugar ...treat it as the poison that it is...give up sugar (and flour while you're at it) and see if you don't lose some weight. I did...and belive it or not ... your taste buds will get used to less sugar...even after no sugar for a while...you'll get used to foods being less sweet and know in your heart you're doing what you can to get rid of that excess body fat. That's what they mean when they say eat more to lose weight. they just left out a few words like natural and unprocessed...

Anonymous

07/07/2010 - 5:34pm

You can make your own conclusions. I stopped eating any food, condiment or candy that listed HFCS, corn syrup solids, or corn syrup in its ingredients list, and I started walking about an hour a day. (I also stopped eating processed wheat products). I lost 40 pounds. My goal was to lose 3 pounds a month, and by not eating corn syrup, I did, rather quickly and painlessly. Say whatever you want, but if you are overweight and don't want to be, try cutting out the HFCS and processed wheat.

Anonymous

06/24/2010 - 2:23pm

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner