How to Reduce Your Intake of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

by Melanie Thomassian Health Professional

Do you know high-fructose corn syrup can be found in breakfast cereals, sauces, and even bread?

Food manufacturers have been using high-fructose corn syrup since the 1970s, and over the years consumption has increased at a ridiculous rate, with uptake far exceeding changes in any other food, or food group.

So, why is high-fructose corn syrup so common? Well, it is cheaper than regular sugar, and it helps to extend shelf life of products. Therefore, it's a manufacturers dream come true, and hence why it's found in so many foods and drinks.

Health concerns of high-fructose corn syrup

Scientific research is conflicting at present as to the effects of high-fructose corn syrup on the body:

  • Various early studies showed an association between increased consumption of sweetened beverages (some of which contained high-fructose corn syrup) and the rise in obesity.

  • But recent research (some supported by the beverage industry) suggests high-fructose corn syrup isn't unhealthier than other sweeteners, nor is it the cause of obesity.

Dietary guidelines

Regardless, dietary guidelines recommend limiting sugar intake to around 8 teaspoons a day (2,000 calorie diet).

This recommendation is however, easily exceeded if you take for example a soft drink, which contains more than 15 teaspoons of sugar.

Foods likely to contain high-fructose corn syrup

Unfortunately, high-fructose corn syrup has crept into so many foods, it's becoming more and more difficult to avoid. Next time you go to the supermarket check out the nutritional labels of these foods:

  • Soft drinks

  • Fruit-flavoured beverages

  • Jam and syrups

  • Frozen foods

  • Fruit canned in syrup

  • Bread

  • Fruit flavoured yoghurt

  • Frozen yoghurt

  • Popsicles/ice pops

  • Ketchup and BBQ sauces

  • Salad dressing

  • Jarred pasta sauce

  • Canned soup

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Other processed foods

If you find high-fructose corn syrup is one of the top ingredients on the nutrition label, this food isn't your best choice.

The fact is that many of the foods and drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup (or sugar), are already high in calories, and provide very little nutritional value - so they should be avoided anyway.

6 easy ways to limit your intake of high-fructose corn syrup:

  1. Choose fresh whole produce most of the time, such as fresh fruit and veggies.

  2. Limit processed foods, and foods that contain added sugar.

  3. Avoid sodas and processed fruit juices - instead go for water, tea, or reduced fat milk.

  4. Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, rather than the highly sweetened versions.

  5. Snack on whole foods, such as nuts, dried fruits, and raw veggies.

  6. Go for home baked sweet foods, rather than store bought cakes, donuts, and cookies.

Melanie Thomassian
Meet Our Writer
Melanie Thomassian

Melanie is a dietitian and writer. She wrote for HeatlhCentral as a health professional for Food & Nutrition and Heart Health.