Monday, March 2, 2009

Seven Steps to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods in the USA. In fact, the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year. American subsidies and tariffs have resulted in corn being a much more economical sweetener than sugar--a trend that is not seen in other parts of the world. Now that high fructose corn syrup is being added to an increasing variety of foods (breads, cereals, soft drinks, and condiments); some people are looking for ways to avoid it.

1) Be clear about your reasons for avoiding high fructose corn syrup.

Reasons cited for avoiding it are:

Beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have high levels of reactive carbonyls which are linked with cell and tissue damage that leads to diabetes, although no significant metabolic differences exist between high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar.

The corn from which high fructose corn syrup is derived may be genetically modified.

There are increasing concerns about the politics surrounding the economics of corn production (subsidies, tariffs, and regulations) as well as the effects of intensive corn agriculture on the environment.

Some people are allergic to products derived from corn.

Although the enzymatic process used to create high fructose corn syrup is a naturally occurring process, it is an additional processing step that sugar refined from beets does not undergo.

Some argue that sugar simply tastes better than high fructose corn syrup.

2) Avoid fast food. Fast food often contains high fructose corn syrup.

3) Read food labels. This is the easiest and most sure-fire way to know if there is high fructose corn syrup in your food. High fructose corn syrup can be found even in products which aren't sweet, such as sliced bread and processed meats like sausage and ham.

4) Understand what "natural" or "organic" means on labels. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate the use of the word "natural". Foods and beverages can be labeled as "natural" even though they contain high fructose corn syrup, because fructose is a naturally occurring sugar.

Products that say "made with organic (specified ingredients or food groups)" cannot contain non-organic HFCS. They cannot be labeled as "organic", and they cannot utilize the USDA seal.

Products labeled "organic" can carry the USDA seal and can include organic HFCS. These products must contain 95% organic ingredients by weight or volume excluding water and salt. The remaining 5% must be on the National List of allowed substances. Since HFCS is not on that list, HFCS can only be included if it is organic.

Only foods labeled as 100% organic can be assumed to be HFCS-free. While there is organic HFCS available[10] it is not 100% organic and therefore cannot be included in a product that is labeled 100% organic.

5) Avoid canned or bottled beverages. Soft drinks, sports drinks, lemonade, iced tea, and almost every sweet drink you can think of contains high fructose corn syrup.

Buy from small bottlers who use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Some smaller brands, such as Jones Soda and Dublin Dr. Pepper, have switched to pure cane sugar.

Buy soft drinks from across the border. If you must have your fix of certain soda brands and you happen to live near Canada or Mexico, look into buying in bulk from those countries, which use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.[8]

Check the Passover section of your supermarket. Some soda companies produce a sugar/sucrose-based version of their products around Passover for Jews who are restricted by custom from eating corn during this time. Coca-Cola produces a version of Coke without corn syrup that can be identified by a yellow cap and is considered by some to taste better than Coke Zero, which is also free of corn syrup but contains artificial sweeteners, not sugar.

6) Lower your sweetener consumption altogether. It's been suggested that the supposed link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity is not due to the high fructose corn syrup itself, but to the increasing consumption of sweeteners in general, especially soft drinks. In fact, where the fructose comes from doesn't seem to matter. The fructose found in fruits could be just as bad as that added to soft drinks. The USDA recommends that a person with a 2000 calorie, balanced diet should consume no more than 32 g (8 tsp) of added sugar per day. Here are some sweet foods and the percentage of the daily recommended amount of sweeteners they provide:

typical cup of fruit yogurt - 70%

cup of regular ice cream - 60%

12-ounce Pepsi - 103%

Hostess Lemon Fruit Pie - 115%

serving of Kellogg's Marshmallow Blasted Froot Loops - 40%

quarter-cup of pancake syrup - 103%

Cinnabon - 123%

large McDonald's Shake - 120%

large Mr. Misty Slush at Dairy Queen - 280%

Burger King's Cini-minis with icing - 95%

7) Buy fresh produce and learn to cook it. One major problem is too much refined and processed food, not any one particular ingredient.


  1. WONDERFUL! This article has hepled me cut down on my use of HFCS. Thanks

  2. can hfcs be labeled as sugar on ingredients

  3. In what different ways may hi fructose corn syrup be listed on ingredients list?