High Fructose Corn Syrup: Why it is Bad For You

A common ingredient in many food products on the grocery store shelves is high fructose corn syrup.

Discover what it is and why it is not good for your health in excessive amounts.

First let's taker a look at what this common food additive is and how it affects health.

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Found in many processed and pre-packaged food products, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), is derived from corn syrup and used as an artificial sweetener in foods.

HFCS and other added sugars are also associated with serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

high fructose corn syrupConsuming too much fructose, which is the predominant substance found in HFCS may cause any number of health problems.

Excessive Fructose

Starchy carbs such as rice are most often broken down to glucose, which is the basic form. Table sugar and HFCS contain approximately 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

Every cell of your body can use glucose and it is easily transportable in the body. It is also the main fuel source for the muscles when used in various activities and high-intensity training.

The liver must convert fructose or table sugar into glucose, or as glycogen, which is stored carbohydrate, or fat before it can be used for fuel.

HFCS, like regular table sugar is rich in fructose. Over the last few decades, fructose intake has been on the rise.

Prior to table sugar and HFCS becoming affordable and readily available, most people ate very little fructose from naturally-sourced sources like fruits and vegetables.

These adverse effects are most likely caused by excess fructose. However, they can be applied to high-fructose corn syrup (55%) and plain table sugar (50%) respectively.

Lacks Essential Nutrients

High fructose corn syrup, like other added sugars is full of empty calories. It is high in calories but does not provide any essential nutrients.

Consuming HFCS can reduce the nutritional content of your diet. The more HFCS you eat, the less space you have for nutrients-rich foods.

Fortunately, a number of commercial meal replacement diets such as Nutrisystem, Medifast and Diet-to-Go for example, have reduced or even eliminated their use of HFCS as an additive (see my Nutrisystem review for details of this popular diet meal delivery program).

Below are some of the diseases and medical conditions that can be brought on by excessive consumption of HFCS:

Obesity and Weight Gain

Studies over long periods have shown that obesity is a result of excessive sugar intake, including HFCS.

In one study, healthy adults drank beverages that contained glucose or fructose.

Comparing the two groups revealed that the fructose beverage did not stimulate the same areas of the brain as the glucose drink.

Visceral fat can also be promoted by fructose. Visceral fat is the most dangerous type of fat and surrounds your organs. It can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

The availability of sugar and HFCS has also led to an increase in daily calories, which is a major factor in weight gain. Researchers have found that people consume more sugar than 500 calories per day, which is 300% more than 50 year ago.

Fatty Liver Disease

A high intake of fructose can lead to higher liver fat.

A study of overweight women and men showed that sucrose-sweetened soda had a 6 month effect on liver fat. It was significantly higher than drinking water, milk, or diet soda.

Research has also shown that fructose may increase liver fat more than glucose.

Long-term liver fat accumulation can cause serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Important to remember that fructose found in added sugars, such as HFCS, can have adverse effects on health. Consuming too much fructose in whole fruits is dangerous. Whole fruits are safe and healthy when consumed in a reasonable amount.

Diabetes Type 2

Insulin resistance can also be caused by excessive fructose and HFCS intake. This condition can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Insulin levels rise in healthy individuals when carbs are consumed. This transports them out of the bloodstream into the cells.

Consuming too much fructose may make your body more resistant to insulin's effects.

This can cause your body to lose control of blood sugar levels. Both insulin and blood sugar levels will increase over the long-term.

HFCS could also play a role as a contributor to diabetes. This syndrome has been linked with many diseases including heart disease, certain cancers, and even heart disease.

Other Diseases

Overconsumption fructose has been linked to many serious diseases.


Sugar and HFCS have been shown to increase inflammation. This is linked with increased risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Excess fructose can cause inflammation and may also increase the harmful substances known as advanced glycation products (AGEs). These AGEs may damage your cells.


It may also worsen inflammatory conditions like gout. It is caused by increased inflammation and uric acids production.

Heart Disease

It may not surprise that there are now studies linking sugar and HFCS to increased heart disease risk and a shorter life expectancy.


High-fructose corn sugar (HFCS), has become very affordable and readily available over the past several decades. This is why it has become so widely used as a sweetener in foods.

Experts now believe that insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, largely caused by excessive HFCS intake, represent some some of the major causes of many common health conditions currently experienced by a large percentage of the population.

The lack of this sweetener in some home delivery diets is possibly one of the reasons why diets like Nutrisystem work so well. High-fructose corn syrup and added sugar should be avoided in order to improve your health and reduce your chance of developing disease.