High Fructose Corn Syrup Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  10 min read
high fructose corn syrup benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: high fructose corn syrup is bad for / increases the risk of high blood sugar, insulin resistance

Longevity: high fructose corn syrup is bad for / increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke

Appearance: high fructose corn syrup is bad for / increases the risk of obesity and weight gain

High fructose corn syrup is…

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: likely low, it takes 1,671 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of corn starch (corn syrup begins as corn starch then is processed into syrup) / 200 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of corn starch

Carbon footprint: low, 0.33 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of processed corn syrup, a car driving equivalent of 0.75 miles or 1.25 kilometers

Destruction: high, high fructose corn syrup is relatively destructive, corn depletes nitrogen and other important nutrients from the soil, more than a third of U.S. corn is used for animal feed, another third grown for ethanol for cars,  92% of corn crops grown in the US in 2016 was genetically modified (GMO), crops are modified to increase yield and improve resistance to insects, disease or chemicals used to kill pests

High fructose corn syrup is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, high fructose corn syrup production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, high fructose corn syrup production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from high fructose corn syrup production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

High fructose corn syrup is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

High fructose corn syrup…

Where does most high fructose corn syrup come from?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener derived from corn syrup, which is processed from corn. The world’s leading producer of corn is the USA followed by China, Brazil, India, Argentina, Ukraine, Mexico and Indonesia. Florida, California, Washington, New York and Georgia are the largest producers of sweet corn within the US.

Is high fructose corn syrup nutritious?

No. High fructose corn syrup is high in sugar and contains fructose and glucose.

high fructose corn syrup is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is high fructose corn syrup alkaline or acidic? High fructose corn syrup is acidic. Fructose, processed foods and sugars are all acidic food groups.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

high fructose corn syrup is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is high fructose corn syrup gluten free? Yes, high fructose corn syrup naturally gluten free.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

high fructose corn syrup is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is high fructose corn syrup a common food allergen? No, high fructose corn syrup is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to high fructose corn syrup but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

high fructose corn syrup is a high-fodmap food.

fodmap friendly food

Is high fructose corn syrup FODMAP friendly?

No. High fructose corn syrup is a high-FODMAP food so you should limit or eliminate it while on a low-FODMAP diet. 

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food

high fructose corn syrup has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does high fructose corn syrup have a high or low carbon footprint? High fructose corn syrup has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of high fructose corn syrup? It takes around 0.33 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of corn syrup, a car driving equivalent of 0.75 miles or 1.25 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

high fructose corn syrup is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is high fructose corn syrup eco friendly? Is high fructose corn syrup sustainable?

High fructose corn syrup production is relatively unsustainable…

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

high fructose corn syrup is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is high fructose corn syrup vegan? Yes, high fructose corn syrup is vegan. High fructose corn syrup is an artificial sugar made from corn and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

high fructose corn syrup may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is high fructose corn syrup a product with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns with corn production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Syrups, corn, high-fructose – FoodData Central

High Fructose Corn Syrup Questions and Answers | FDA

Domestic use of high fructose corn syrup continues to decline

High fructose corn syrup induces metabolic dysregulation

Sugar & Sweeteners – USDA ERS – Charts of Note

Sugar and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables – USDA ERS

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.