What is high-fructose corn syrup? What are the health concerns?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

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. 05, 2018