What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?


Quick Answer

High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener commonly used in commercial sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. It is derived from cornstarch, which is broken down into individual glucose molecules. Enzymes are added to convert some of the glucose into fructose, which occurs naturally in fruits and berries; this process is the source of the name "high fructose corn syrup."

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Full Answer

High fructose corn syrup is most commonly produced with a fructose level of either 42 or 55 percent; these types are known respectively as HFCS 42 and HFCS 55. HFCS 42 is used primarily in processed foods, including cereals and baked goods, while HFCS 55 is used primarily in soft drinks. High fructose corn syrup is similar to sucrose, the most well-known sweetener, except that it contains water, and there is no chemical bond that combines glucose and fructose.

Because obesity rates have increased as the use of high fructose corn syrup has also increased, there is concern that there may be a connection. While there is much debate on the safety and nutritional value of high fructose corn syrup, as of 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is unaware of any sufficient evidence regarding the safety of foods containing high fructose corn syrup compared to foods containing the same amount of other nutritive sweeteners. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the consumption of foods with any kind of added sugar.

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