What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup and Is It Bad For You?

High-fructose corn syrup has long been portrayed as an evil of the American diet. Check out this video to find out what's exactly in this mysterious sweetener, and how bad it really is for your health.

You hear about high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, all the time. But do you actually know what the ingredient is, or how it affects your health? In this video, we're bringing you all the info you need to know about the buzzed-about sweetener, including the foods it's hiding in and the maximum amount you should consume daily.

HFCS, which is commonly found in sodas, desserts, and certain breakfast cereals, is often criticized for its contribution to America's obesity epidemic. It's also been linked with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.

The sweetener is made from processed corn starch. Starches are made of long chains of linked sugars, and HFCS is produced by breaking down the starch into a syrup made of the sugar glucose. Manufacturers then add enzymes to the substance to convert some of the glucose into fructose, which tastes much sweeter.

Why don't brands just use regular table sugar? HFCS is much cheaper, hence why it became so popular starting in the 1970s. But the affordable ingredient also comes with a catch. Studies have shown that animals who eat a diet high in HFCS gain more weight than those who don't. Even worse, the ingredient doesn't fill them up, so it makes them more likely to overeat.

HFCS is similar to table sugar in its ratio of fructose to glucose, and both sweeteners contain four calories per gram. So while the syrup may not be any worse than regular sugar, both contribute to health concerns like weight gain and diabetes.

To stay healthy, cut down on any and all added sweeteners, HFCS included. Try not to consume more than 40 grams (or about 10 teaspoons) per day.

Don't forget that added sugar isn't just the spoonful you add to your morning cup of coffee, either. Sweeteners are often hiding in soft drinks, sauces, and even salad dressings and condiments. Since the average American eats about 60 pounds (yep, pounds!) of added sugar per year, there's certainly some room to scale back when it comes to the sweet stuff.

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