Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad?

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Although high-fructose corn syrup is found in countless foods that many people consume all the time, there are certain dangerous side effects that should be considered, as they might make you change your eating habits!

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup is a concentrated and widely popular sweetener made from corn starch that has had some of its glucose converted into fructose. This creates a very desirable and versatile sweetener that can be added to food in an easier way than traditional granulated sugar. It is also extremely cheap to make, given the massive amounts of corn that is produced every year around the world.

There are various strengths of this corn syrup, depending on the percentage of fructose it contains. For example, most sugary sodas contain HFCS 55, whereas HFCS is more commonly found in sweets and baked goods. There is a great deal of debate over the health effects of consuming high levels of this corn syrup, but it remains one of the most ubiquitous additives in commonly purchased foods.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Foods

The most common foods that contain this concentrated form of corn syrup include the following:

High Fructose Corn Syrup Health Risks

There are quite a few risks to consuming an excess of HFCS, including gaining weight, elevated blood pressure, leaky gut syndrome, and high cholesterol, among others.

Weight Gain

Excessive consumption of sugar will always lead to weight gain, but due to fructose’s inability to trigger insulin production or stimulate the metabolism, it is more likely to lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism.


Studies have found that cancer cells can easily metabolize fructose, but not glucose, so an excess of fructose makes it easier for those cancerous cells to multiply and spread.

Fatty Liver Disease

When there is an excess of fructose in the body, it will be sent to the liver, which can cause it to be stored as fat, resulting in lipogenesis and eventually, fatty liver disease.


Numerous researchers have found that drinking beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup will increase blood pressure more than unsweetened beverages.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

When extra fructose needs to be handled by the gut, it can take more energy to metabolize, and deplete the resources of our intestinal lining, leading to a leaky gut syndrome, in some cases.

High Cholesterol

After only a week or two of consistent consumption of HFCS, it has been found that LDL cholesterol levels (bad) will rise, which can increase your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

High Fructose Corn Syrup vs Sugar

  • HFCS: Although HFCS is derived from corn starch, it begins as pure glucose, and then enzymes are added to it, typically resulting in roughly 45% glucose and 55% fructose.
  • Regular sugar:  However, this is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. This slight difference in fructose concentration doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of flavor or sweetness, although technically fructose is “sweeter” than glucose.

Generally speaking, these two substances have similar effects on the body, and should always be consumed in moderation.

Alternatives to High Fructose Corn Syrup

If you want to cut down on your overall sugar intake and avoid some of the negative side effects of HFCS, some of the best alternatives are stevia, maple syrup, and raw honey, among others.

  • Raw Honey: There are only 20 calories per teaspoon, and it is even sweeter than sugar!
  • Stevia: There are zero calories in stevia, but it is at least 200 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Dates: A single date only contains 20 calories, but it has an unusual sweetness and dietary fiber!
  • Maple Syrup: There are 52 calories in one tablespoon of maple syrup, which is also sweeter than sugar.
  • Coconut Sugar: There are 15 calories in one teaspoon of coconut sugar.
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