High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. As use of high-fructose corn syrup has increased, so have levels of obesity and related health problems. Some wonder if there's a connection.
High-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to table sugar. Controversy exists, however, about whether the body handles high-fructose corn syrup differently than table sugar.
At this time, there's insufficient evidence to say that high-fructose corn syrup is any less healthy than other types of sweeteners.
It is known, however, that too much added sugar of all kinds — not just high-fructose corn syrup — can contribute unwanted calories that are linked to health problems, such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high triglyceride levels. All of these boost your risk of heart disease.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on added sugar, limiting it to no more than 10 percent of total daily calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women get no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar from any source, and that most men get no more than 150 calories a day of added sugar. That's about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
If you're concerned about your health, the smart play is to cut back on added sugar, regardless of the type.
Sept. 12, 2020
Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic’s experts.
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Whitney E, et al. The carbohydrates: Sugars, starches, and fibers. In: Understanding Nutrition. 14th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning; 2016.
- Duyff RL. Carbs: Sugars, starches, fiber. In: American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2012.
- By any other name it's still sweetener. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/by-any-other-name-its-still-sweetener. Accessed Aug. 30, 2018.
- Liu S, et al. Dietary carbohydrates. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 30, 2018.
- White JS. Challenging the fructose hypothesis: New perspectives on fructose consumption and metabolism. Advances in Nutrition. 2013;4:246.
- Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112:739.
- Kolderup A, et al. Fructose metabolism in relation to atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2015;2015:1.
- Yu Z, et al. High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose have equivalent effects on energy-regulating hormones at normal human consumption levels. Nutrition Research. 2013;33:1043.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed Aug. 30, 2018.
- High fructose corn syrup questions and answers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/ucm324856.htm. Accessed Aug. 30, 2018.