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High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a common sweetener. Diets rich in HFCS have been linked to health concerns like fatty liver, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Plus, many foods and drinks that contain HFCS also have lots of calories, highly refined oils, preservatives, and artificial colorings and flavors. Each of these may contribute to weight gain, increased inflammation, and many other health concerns (
If you want to cut back on HFCS, you should take stock of what common foods and beverages have this controversial sweetener in them.
This article lists 12 foods and drinks that commonly contain HFCS.
If you have a sweet tooth like mine, you crave a piece of candy as a pick-me-up.
But your favorite candy may be packed with HFCS, plus some other ingredients that you may want to avoid for optimal health.
Even if you buy HFCS-free candy, you should be aware that basically all candy is high in added sugar, no matter the source.
Adults and kids alike enjoy packaged sweets like cupcakes, pastries, and cookies. It may be best to eat them sparingly, though.
This is because packaged sweets are usually high in calories, fat, and added sugar. Plus, many packaged desserts are sweetened with HFCS.
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- autoimmune conditions
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Studies suggest that excessive consumption of HFCS-sweetened soda can lead to the intestinal formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
These harmful compounds travel from the intestines to other tissues, causing inflammation and possibly making joint inflammation worse in people with rheumatoid arthritis (
Even though some juices are made with 100% fruit juice and contain no added sweeteners, many juice drinks are flavored with sugary additives, including HFCS.
Children and teens often opt for these sweetened fruit juices due to targeting by advertisers — a controversial practice because kids are more vulnerable to the effects of a high sugar diet (
This isn’t surprising — these highly processed foods are loaded with calories, sodium, refined carbs, and added sugar.
Some fast food menu items may contain HFCS.
In fact, many desserts served at fast food establishments are sweetened with HFCS. Sweet dipping sauces served with fast food favorites like chicken nuggets may contain HFCS as well.
When you’re cooking a savory dish, the last thing you might be concerned with is added sugar.
Unfortunately, many of your favorite sauces are high in added sugar, sometimes in the form of HFCS.
Ice cream and ice pops are common sources of HFCS and other added sweeteners.
Remember that food labels list ingredients used in the greatest amounts first, meaning that HFCS is the second most plentiful ingredient in these products (
However, you may not expect savory breakfast items to harbor HFCS.
Even hearty breakfast dishes like Jimmy Dean Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Frozen Croissants, Dillon’s Breakfast Bacon Egg & Cheese Mini Bagels, and Smart Ones Canadian Style Turkey Bacon English Muffin Sandwiches contain HFCS (57, 58, 59).
Fruit preserves and jams can be sneaky sources of added sugar, including HFCS.
The company’s jams and jellies also contain HFCS. What’s more, its Goober Grape and Goober Strawberry products — blended peanut butter and jelly spread that’s marketed to children — contain HFCS (64, 65).
Refined carb products, like bread and crackers, are often made with HFCS.
Fortunately, swapping refined grains for starchy vegetables and whole grains may help reduce these health risks.
Pancake syrup and dessert syrups are super sweet, and some or all of that sweetness may come from HFCS.
One of the most popular pancake syrup brands Pearl Milling — formerly Aunt Jemima — uses HFCS in its Original Style pancake syrup (70).
Keep in mind that pancake syrup is not the same as 100% pure maple syrup, which is free from ingredients like HFCS.
When you’re purchasing applesauce, the last ingredient you’d expect to find on the label is HFCS.
Yet, many applesauces are sweetened with HFCS.
Notably, Mott’s Applesauce is made with HFCS. To avoid HFCS and other added sweeteners, look for applesauce with no sugar added (73).
Reducing your consumption of all sources of added sugar — including HFCS — is a smart way to improve your overall health.
Certain foods and beverages, including soda, candy, ice cream, breakfast foods, snack foods, and packaged desserts, commonly contain added sweeteners like HFCS.
If you’re unsure whether a product contains HFCS, read the ingredients label. Also, look out for other sources of added sugar like cane sugar, corn syrup solids, and agave.
Just one thing
Try this today: If you’re looking to reduce your HFCS intake and keep your sweet tooth sated, yogurt parfait makes both a nutritious breakfast and a protein-rich dessert.
Buy a quart of unsweetened Greek yogurt, then add your favorite fruits, fiber-packed chia seeds, and — if you need more sweetness — a drizzle of natural honey.