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How to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

One Methods:Foods To Buy As Replacements

High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods in the USA. In fact, the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year. American subsidies and tariffs have resulted in corn being a much more economical sweetener than sugar--a trend that is not seen in other parts of the world. Now that high fructose corn syrup is being added to an increasing variety of foods (breads, cereals, soft drinks, and condiments); some people are looking for ways to avoid it.


  1. Image titled Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Step 1 preview
    Be clear about your reasons for avoiding high fructose corn syrup. Reasons cited for avoiding it are:
    • Beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have high levels of reactive carbonyls which are linked with cell and tissue damage that leads to diabetes[1], although there is no evidence so far that high fructose corn syrup consumption directly leads to diabetes. No significant metabolic differences exist between high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar.[2]
    • The corn from which high fructose corn syrup is derived may be genetically modified. [3][4][5]
    • There are increasing concerns about the politics surrounding the economics of corn production (subsidies, tariffs, and regulations) as well as the effects of intensive corn agriculture on the environment.[6]
    • Some people are allergic to products derived from corn.
    • Although the enzymatic process used to create high fructose corn syrup is a naturally occurring process, it is an additional processing step that sugar refined from beets does not undergo.[7] Some people prefer to avoid additionally processed foods and ingredients as much as possible.
    • Some people believe that sugar satiates, or creates the feeling of "full", faster than HFCS, which, if true, would likely lead to reduced caloric consumption.[8]
    • Some argue that sugar simply tastes better than high fructose corn syrup.[9]
  2. Image titled Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Step 2 preview
    Avoid fast food. Fast food often contains high fructose corn syrup.
  3. Image titled Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Step 3 preview
    Read food labels. This is the easiest and most sure-fire way to know if there is high fructose corn syrup in your food. High fructose corn syrup can be found even in products which aren't sweet, such as sliced bread and processed meats like sausage and ham.
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    Understand what "natural" or "organic" means on labels with regard to HFCS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate the use of the word "natural". Foods and beverages can be labeled as "natural" even though they contain high fructose corn syrup, because fructose is a naturally occurring sugar. The word "organic" is heavily regulated, and basically, only foods labeled as 100% organic can be assumed to be HFCS-free. For a more detailed explanation, see the Tips below.
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    Avoid canned or bottled beverages. Soft drinks, sports drinks, lemonade, iced tea, and almost every sweet drink you can think of contains high fructose corn syrup.
    • Buy from small bottlers who use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Some smaller brands, such as Jones Soda and Dublin Dr. Pepper, have switched to pure cane sugar.[10]
    • Buy soft drinks from across the border. If you must have your fix of certain soda brands and you happen to live near Canada or Mexico, look into buying in bulk from those countries, which use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.[9]
    • Check the Passover section of your supermarket. Some soda companies produce a sugar/sucrose-based version of their products around Passover for Jews who are restricted by custom from eating corn during this time. Coca-Cola produces a version of Coke without corn syrup[11] that can be identified by a yellow cap and is considered by some to taste better than Coke Zero, which is also free of corn syrup but contains artificial sweeteners, not sugar.[12]
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    Lower your sweetener consumption altogether. It's been suggested that the supposed link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity is not due to the high fructose corn syrup itself, but to the increasing consumption of sweeteners in general, especially soft drinks.[7][13][14] In fact, where the fructose comes from doesn't seem to matter. The fructose found in fruits could be just as bad as that added to soft drinks. [15] The USDA recommends that a person with a 2000 calorie, balanced diet should consume no more than 32 g (8 tsp) of added sugar per day.[16] Here are some sweet foods and the percentage of the daily recommended amount of sweeteners they provide:[13]
    • typical cup of fruit yogurt - 70%
    • cup of regular ice cream - 60%
    • 12-ounce Pepsi - 103%
    • Hostess Lemon Fruit Pie - 115%
    • serving of Kellogg's Marshmallow Blasted Fruit Loops - 40%
    • quarter-cup of pancake syrup - 103%
    • Cinnabon - 123%
    • large McDonald's Shake - 120%
    • large Mr. Misty Slush at Dairy Queen - 280%
    • Burger King's Cini-minis with icing - 95%
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    Buy fresh produce and learn to cook it. The real problem is too much refined and processed food, not any one particular ingredient.

Foods To Buy As Replacements

  1. Image titled Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Step 8 preview
    You don't have to go without your favorite foods to avoid high fructose corn syrup. Many products on the market are meeting this demand by taking the ingredient out of their food.
    • Bread. Nature's Own and Sara Lee are free of high fructose corn syrup.
    • Cereal. Any of the Kashi cereal brands do not contain high fructose corn syrup. Cheerios, Grape Nuts and Life cereal are also good options.
    • Condiments. Any of the Annie's Naturals products and Welch's fruit spreads are free of HFCS. Heinz ketchup and Hellman's mayonnaise are also good options.
    • Ice cream. Breyer's All Natural ice creams are free of HFCS but be careful; Breyer's is now marketing "Frozen Dairy Dessert" in the same familiar flavours, and these do contain HFCS. Many of the Ben and Jerry's flavors also meet this requirements, although a couple of the ones that contain candy or chocolate may have minor amounts.
    • Chocolate. Most Cadbury and Dove chocolates are free of HFCS.
    • Applesauce. Mott's Natural Applesauce is the only main brand applesauce free from HFCS (although there are plenty of organic options - which are better for you anyway, since conventional apples are high in pesticides).
    • Soda. Although these are more difficult to find, lesser known soda brands like China Cola and Blue Sky soft drinks don't contain HFCS.
    • Pasta sauce. Any of the Ragu flavors and most of the Classico brands will not contain HFCS.


  • Adding more fruit to your diet can help you avoid high fructose corn syrup, but not fructose itself, as the sugars in fruit are mostly fructose.
  • In case you're wondering, here's why only foods labeled 100% organic can be assumed to be HFCS-free:

    • Products that say "made with organic (specified ingredients or food groups)" can contain non-organic HFCS if HFCS is not the specified ingredient. They cannot be labeled as "organic", and they cannot utilize the USDA seal.[17]
    • Products labeled "organic" can carry the USDA seal and can include organic HFCS. These products must contain 95% organic ingredients by weight or volume excluding water and salt. The remaining 5% must be on the National List of allowed substances. Since HFCS is not on that list, HFCS can only be included if it is organic.[17]
    • Theoretically, a product labeled USDA 100% organic could contain HFCS if the HFCS itself was 100% organic, but no such product is currently available because the processing aids used in making HFCS are not organic.[17] While there is organic HFCS available[18] it is not 100% organic and therefore cannot be included in a product that is labeled 100% organic.
  • One small chain of 8 stores in Seattle no longer carries products containing high fructose corn syrup.[19]


  • Replacing all the calories consumed in high fructose corn syrup with sugar may not have any noticeable impact on weight because they both contain the same amounts of calories. There is still controversy as to whether fructose derived from corn is processed any differently than sucrose (table sugar). Some research suggests that HFCS plays a role in the obesity epidemic in the US[20],[21] while other sources say there is no difference in the consumption effects of HFCS vs. cane sugar[22]

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