Is high fructose corn syrup harmful?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Whatever you call it, high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar (and even regular sugar in excess) is bad for you. It increases cardiovascular risks for young adults, promotes hypertension, adds body fat and increases uric acid levels, which wrecks your arteries. High or low, added fructose (not natural fructose in fruit) in everything from ketchup to baked goods to soda and fruit juices messes with your appetite control system (especially the hormone leptin). We're chowing down a horrifying 63 pounds of the sweet stuff a year. It's making us fatter and fatter -- and more likely to get diabetes.
Shereen Jegtvig
Nutrition & Dietetics

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener that's very similar to sucrose, which is what we call regular or table sugar. Both HFCS and sugar contain a large amount of fructose; HFCS is about 55% fructose and sugar is 50% fructose. Some research studies indicate that heavy daily consumption of fructose is linked to a having a greater risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and high blood pressure. Eating too much HFCS may be bad for you, so it’s best to reduce your intake, but don’t replace HFCS with regular sugar, because it carries the same health risks.



Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
Family Medicine
Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency. These are used skillfully through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association’s attempt to dispel the “myth” that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is harmful and assert through the opinion of “medical and nutrition experts” that it is no different than cane sugar. It is a “natural” product that is a healthy part of our diet when used in moderation.

Except for one problem. When used in moderation it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more.

HFCS consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol). This is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver,” which affects 70 million people. The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin -- our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.