You may have seen glucose syrup on the ingredient list for numerous packaged foods.

Naturally, you may wonder what this syrup is, what it’s made from, whether it’s healthy, and how it compares to other products.

This article explains everything you need to know about glucose syrup.

Glucose syrup is a substance primarily used in commercial food production as a sweetener, thickener, and moisture-retaining agent.

As it doesn’t crystallize, it’s often utilized to make candy, beer, fondant, and certain canned and premade baked goods.

Glucose syrup is distinct from glucose, which is a simple carb and your body and brain’s preferred source of energy (1, 2).

Instead, the syrup is made by breaking down glucose molecules in starchy foods through hydrolysis. This chemical reaction yields a concentrated, sweet product with a high glucose content (3).

Although corn is the most common source, potatoes, barley, cassava, and wheat can also be used. Glucose syrup is produced as a thick liquid or in solid granules (4, 5).

The dextrose equivalent (DE) of these syrups signifies their level of hydrolysis. Those with a higher DE harbor more sugar and are therefore sweeter (6).

Main types

The two basic types of glucose syrup, which differ in their carb profile and taste, are (7):

  • Confectioner’s syrup. Processed via acid hydrolysis and continuous converting, this type of glucose syrup is typically comprised of 19% glucose, 14% maltose, 11% maltotriose, and 56% other carbs.
  • High-maltose glucose syrup. Made with an enzyme called amylase, this type packs 50–70% maltose. It’s not as sweet as table sugar and does a better job of keeping foods dry.

Glucose syrup vs. corn syrup

Like many glucose syrups, corn syrup is made by breaking down cornstarch. While corn syrup can accurately be called glucose syrup, not all glucose syrups are corn syrup — because they can be derived from other plant sources.

Nutritionally, glucose and corn syrups are similar and offer very few health benefits. Neither contains a significant amount of vitamins or minerals (8).

They can be used interchangeably in many recipes, including baked goods, candy, frozen desserts, and glazes.


Glucose syrup is a commercial sweetener used in products like baked goods and candy. It’s often derived from corn or other starchy foods and has little nutritional value.

Glucose syrup helps preserve and increase the sweetness of commercial foods, which may boost their appeal. It’s also very cheap to produce.

However, it doesn’t offer any health benefits.

This syrup doesn’t contain fat or protein but is instead a concentrated source of sugar and calories. One tablespoon (15 ml) is loaded with 62 calories and 17 grams of carbs — nearly 4 times more than the amounts found in table sugar (8, 9).

Consuming glucose syrup regularly may increase your risk of obesity, high blood sugar, poor dental health, high blood pressure, and heart disease (10, 11).


Glucose syrup is a concentrated source of sugar and calories that’s primarily used to improve consumer satisfaction. It may increase your risk of various health conditions.

Since eating glucose syrup regularly may harm your health, it’s probably something you want to avoid.

Here are some tips for keeping glucose syrup out of your diet:

  • Avoid processed foods and drinks. Glucose syrup is often lurking in sodas, juices, and sports drinks, as well as candy, canned fruits, breads, and packaged snack foods. It’s best to buy whole foods as much as possible.
  • Check ingredient lists on packaged products. Glucose syrup may be listed as glucose or other names. While you’re reading the label, watch out for other unhealthy sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup.
  • Look for foods that contain healthier sweeteners. Some packaged foods use molasses, stevia, xylitol, yacon, or syrup instead of glucose syrup. These sweeteners don’t appear to be harmful in moderate amounts (12, 13, 14).

Glucose syrup isn’t a healthy ingredient and should be avoided as much as possible. You can minimize your intake by reading ingredient labels and buying whole foods as much as possible.

Glucose syrup is a liquid sweetener often used in commercial foods to improve taste and shelf life.

However, eating this syrup regularly is unhealthy, as it’s highly processed and loaded with calories and sugar. As such, it’s best to avoid this ingredient.

Instead, look for foods that contain healthier sweeteners.