Icky Ingredients — High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted on April 30, 2008 by Allie


This morning, I had The View on while I was doing some work, and Whoopie Goldberg was talking about how the U.S. needs to ban high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you’re not looking out for this icky ingredient, here’s why you should.

So what exactly is HFCS?

According to Supermarket Guru:

“High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is processed from hydrolyzed corn starch (so it’s not completely natural) and contains a high level of fructose (which is naturally occurring in fruits and honey) and a simple sugar carbohydrate, just like sucrose. It is about 75% sweeter than sucrose, less expensiv e than sugar, and mixes well in many foods. Food manufacturers (especially soda manufacturers) began using HFCS widely in the early 1970s to save money, and it was thought of as a revolutionary advance in food science because of its stability and usefullness in a variety of foods.”

According to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at RealAge.com, your body doesn’t process high fructose corn syrup the same way it processes sugar.  Not only does HFCS add calories to your diet, but it makes you feel hungrier, so you tend to eat more.  So, the Big Gulp on your desk is giving you a giant dose of empty calories, AND encouraging you to eat that entire bag of chips.

RealAge.com explains how it works in more detail:

“Your digestive system has two main hormones that control hunger and appetite. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and increases your appetite. When your stomach’s empty, it sends ghrelin out, requesting food. Leptin tells your brain that you’re full. HFCS inhibits leptin secretion, so you never get the message that you’re full. And HFCS never shuts off ghrelin, so even though you have food in your stomach, you constantly get the message that you’re hungry.”

If you’re new to avoiding HFCS, and you start reading labels, you’re going to feel like it’s in everything — sauces, soda, ketchup, bread,  yogurt, sweet pickles, cold medicine, etc. — the list seems endless.   The good news is that certified organic food cannot contain HFCS, and the FDA has recently stated that food containing HFCS cannot be labeled “all natural” anymore.  Hopefully, we’ll see changes in our grocery stores soon and it will be easier to navigate the packaging claims.

HFCS is banned in the UK and eventually, it may happen here as well. Correction: My source for this information disappeared.  I can only find one other source stating the UK has a ban on HFCS, and the source isn’t cited. However, Informed Choices says that isoglucose production in the UK is limited to roughly 2% of sugar production. Hopefully, banning or limiting HFCS will lead to healthier options in our general food supply.  In the meantime, read labels, avoid processed food, and be aware of what you eat.

High Fructose High has compiled a list of common foods that DON’T contain HFCS.

The Accidental Hedonist has compiled a list of foods that DO contain HFCS.

Also, remember that just because HFCS is bad, it doesn’t make sugar good.  Sugar is a better option, but it’s still high on calories and low on nutrients.

If you can’t give up the sweet drinks, brew some iced tea and sweeten it with agave syrup.


  1. Sometimes it seems like the only solution is to just eat fruits and vegetables all day. With no sauce. I hate that it’s in sauce, because I love ketchup.

    April 30th, 2008 at 8:11 pm
    Comment by Noelle
  2. Just buy organic ketchup — Heinz even makes one.

    April 30th, 2008 at 8:13 pm
    Comment by Allie
  3. I didn’t know the UK had banned HFCS. Are we behind on everything?

    April 30th, 2008 at 10:06 pm
    Comment by mickey
  4. Once again, the US is the last to make changes when their harmful products continue to bring a profit. Worst part is, I can’t seem to shake my Coca Cola addiction. I only drink one 6 oz can a day, but get edgy without it.

    Dagny McKinley
    organic apparel

    May 1st, 2008 at 12:38 am
    Comment by Dagny McKinley
  5. Thanks for the great information. We are trying very hard to cut it out – we definitely don’t let the kids have it but I am struggling to give up a 20+ year coca cola habit!

    May 1st, 2008 at 1:15 am
    Comment by Alana
  6. I do try never to buy any processed food at all – it’s just easier that way. But we do have some sauces in this house – I should get round to making my own but I never seem to. You have reminded me that I should. I don’t want to be eating this sort of stuff and certainly don’t want my children to be doing so.

    May 1st, 2008 at 1:28 pm
    Comment by Reluctant Blogger
  7. What’s really frustrating is that Coca Cola uses sugar instead of corn syrup to make their soda in other countries, but in the US they use corn syrup. Sure, it would be better not to drink coke at all, but Dagny and Alana are not the first two people I’ve run into with a Coca Cola addiction.

    May 1st, 2008 at 2:23 pm
    Comment by Allie
  8. oddly enough Noelle, there is a movement of people who do just that – they eat no condiments. ever. on anything. i went to a conference where there was one session on this topic and i couldn’t tell if the lady was joking or serious.

    HFCS has infiltrated most foods…it gets so frustrating trying to find foods without it. i’m happy to know prodcuts with hfcs can’t be labeled natural. one trick down.

    May 1st, 2008 at 3:19 pm
    Comment by erikka
  9. Erikka — one word of caution is that the FDA JUST decided this and at the moment, I think there are still products on the shelves labeled as natural that contain HFCS. So keep reading labels. Eventually the change will come, but I doubt that it’s happened already. USDA ORGANIC cannot contain HFCS though, so that one is a safe bet.

    May 1st, 2008 at 3:21 pm
    Comment by Allie
  10. Has anyone seen the documentary “King Corn?” It’s good and very interesting. Basically our (US) diet is comprised of corn. They get into HFCS. There’s one disturbing shot where the guys are in a supermarket and a convenience store and one of them says “all the products in this aisle are made with HFCS.” It’s a real eye opener.

    May 1st, 2008 at 4:05 pm
    Comment by Jennifer
  11. Oh gosh, as I’m reading this I’m sipping on the Coke that came with my lunch wishing I had opted for the water instead. I never drink soda anymore, and I always bring my lunch, but today I ran out the door and forgot it. Oops.

    May 1st, 2008 at 5:31 pm
    Comment by Danielle
  12. [...] for a sauce that is free of high fructose corn syrup. This one uses brown sugar instead of HFCS, but there are some great organic sauces (like the one [...]

    May 5th, 2008 at 4:58 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » Meat-Free Mondays - Barbecued Tofu Sandwich
  13. [...] lot of people mentioned having a hard time avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in foods.  I am really big on not eating HFCS, and have found tons of foods to replace the [...]

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:23 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » New Segment - HFCS Free Foods
  14. [...] has decreased hugely. Food has less nutritional value than ever before. More and more food contains high fructose corn syrup, which, of course, is making us really, really fat. And diabetic. There’s a really amusing [...]

    July 20th, 2008 at 2:31 pm
    Pingback by King Corn « Howling Hill
  15. [...] HFCS – We all know about this one already.  High Fructose Corn Syrup is often found in sweet or bread and butter pickles. [...]

    November 7th, 2008 at 1:12 pm
    Pingback by HFCS Free - Bread & Butter Pickles
  16. [...] heard, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is pretty nasty stuff. Take a look at a great post called Icky Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup at Allie’s Answers. I knew I couldn’t find Karo down here in New Zealand, but I didn’t know HFCS is banned [...]

    January 14th, 2009 at 7:56 pm
    Pingback by Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed (Pepita) Brittle Recipe | Wasabimon!
  17. This message is for Noelle who wishes hfcs was not in ketchup. Try the Del Monte brand. I cannot find it listed in the ingredients unless it has another name. Hopefully, this brand is in your area. Healthy eating and blessings on your day. <

    January 29th, 2009 at 7:30 pm
    Comment by Julie
  18. The only way these companies are going to stop the unhealthful ways is for the people to stop buying their products because they have harmful ingredients in them. I’ve been told there is mercury in the hfcs,can anyone give me some information on that?

    February 25th, 2009 at 4:57 am
    Comment by Karen
  19. I am highly doubtful there is any more mercury in HFCS than any other processed food. The dangers of mercury in food and processing equpment has been well known for decades…

    February 26th, 2009 at 4:23 pm
    Comment by kev
  20. [...] the bulk section of the grocery store, I was beyond appalled by the ingredients.  In addition to High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Palm Oil, they contained Talc!  [...]

    March 16th, 2009 at 2:28 pm
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  21. Have you got any other link to support your assertion that HFCS is banned in the UK? The link given is broken, and none of the government websites seem to agree with that claim.

    April 9th, 2009 at 9:18 am
    Comment by Margaret
  22. There are certain stores where you can get Mexican Coca Cola which is made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It tastes like Coca Cola originally did….yum! I get some every once in a while at a local farmers market…

    July 19th, 2009 at 8:13 pm
    Comment by rose
  23. [...] health than sugar. Health effects of high-fructose corn syrup – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Icky Ingredients — High Fructose Corn Syrup Anyone ever tasted anything with HFCS? Disgusting. Every year I go Stateside (Chicago to be exact [...]

    July 18th, 2011 at 9:40 am
    Pingback by Coca Cola to teach US dieticians - Healthypages Discussion Forums

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