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Dessert-lovers are likely already familiar with a common sweetener called high fructose corn syrup. This additive is found in many popular treats, like soda and candy. But is high fructose corn syrup bad for you?

To understand the health risks of high fructose corn syrup, you should first know what distinguishes it from sugar. Unlike natural sugars, high fructose corn syrup is a processed sweetener, meaning that it is chemically manufactured. It is derived from the glucose in cornstarch. Enzymes are added to the sweetener to transform the glucose into fructose, a sugar found naturally in fruit.

We already know the risks associated with consuming too much sugar; before you reach for another piece of candy, learn why is high fructose corn syrup should be enjoyed in moderation, too.

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Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad For You?

The ill effects of high fructose corn syrup have been debated. A 2004 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that high fructose corn syrup could be a cause of obesity. But later studies disputed the conclusion, finding that general overeating, rather than corn syrup in particular, is to blame for the obesity epidemic. However, the American Heart Association notes that high fructose corn syrup is a type of sugar, and too much sugar, whether or not it’s processed, can lead to weight gain and affect heart health.

Ultimately, high fructose corn syrup can pose many of the same health risks as sugar.

Why Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad?

High fructose corn syrup is found in many of the products people enjoy every day, including breads, dairy products, and cereal — but it shouldn’t be a major part of your diet. The syrup is still sugar, and your sugar intake should always be limited.

If you’re wondering why is high fructose corn syrup bad, it’s because many Americans already consume more sugar than is recommended. The American Heart Association advises men to consume no more than nine teaspoons of sugar each day and women no more than six teaspoons. Currently, it’s estimated that American men and women are consuming more than triple the recommended amount of sugar.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Health Risks

There’s nothing wrong with a sweet treat now and then, but overindulging in sugar poses health risks. Doing so can make you feel tired or sick. In some cases, it also causes diarrhea. Other high fructose corn syrup health risks include:

  • A change in mood
  • Weight gain
  • An increase in blood glucose levels
  • A higher risk of heart disease
  • Cavities

To avoid these health problems, you should monitor how much sugar you’re eating. You can always eat less sugar, drink more water, and exercise to counteract the effects of high-sugar food and drink.

For personalized nutrition recommendations, talk to a registered dietitian. To make an appointment with one of our experts, call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762).

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.