The Downfall of High Fructose Corn Syrup

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Let’s talk about the downfall of high fructose corn syrup. Many companies and consumers have become aware of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, and they’ve stopped using it as a result. Here’s why you should avoid it - and what other popular “bad ingredients” you should be aware of.

In this article, I will cover:


So What’s The Issue With High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCs) has been a really popular sweetener in the United States for the last 30 years. In fact, in 1980, an average American consumed about 20 pounds of it per year. Then, in the year 2000, that number spiked to an amazing 61 pounds!

Suddenly though, in 2015, that number dropped dramatically to 39 pounds - nearly half of the 2000 number! And, if I’m not mistaken, it’s been down-trending even more ever since.

Why? Well, quite a few companies today are shifting from high fructose corn syrup to different forms of sugar. This includes soft drink companies like PepsiCo and Snapple, and food companies like Pizza Hut, and Kraft Foods. High fructose syrup and sucrose can be found in Gatorade and Powerade.

Problem 1: Fructose

Fructose is hard for the liver to process

The first issue with high fructose corn syrup is the amount of fructose that it contains. High-fructose corn syrup is made of 53% glucose, 42% fructose, and 5% miscellaneous sugars.

Fructose, in particular, can do some serious damage to your liver.

Now you might be thinking What? What about glucose and sucrose? Isn’t it all bad? Well, not in the same way.

See, all of your cells have receptors for glucose, but not fructose. That means that, while every cell in your body can work on breaking down glucose, only the liver has receptors to break down fructose and turn it into glucose.

If you’re consuming a lot of fructose from processed foods, then, you’re going to overload the liver and create all sorts of problems, including:

  • Fat Storing Hormone resistance
  • A fatty liver
  • Eventual cirrhosis

In addition, excess fructose consumption is considered to be a key driver of many serious diseases, including obesity and weight gain, type II diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

In short, fructose is very unhealthy for the liver and the system as a whole, and its the fastest way to fatten up your liver and your gut.

Now, what’s ironic is that sucrose - table sugar - is roughly 50% glucose and 50% fructose. So, from my viewpoint, table sugar is also really unhealthy.

Problem 2: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

GMOs are linked to health concerns

You also have to take note of how they make high fructose corn syrup. It’s made in a lab and it comes from corn starch - which, in turn, comes from corn with genetic modifications.

So what’s the problem with GMOs?

GMOs contain glyphosate, which is one of the world’s most popular herbicides. Though there is some debate in the scientific community about the long-term risks of glyphosate that’s ingestested from fruit and vegetables, many studies link it to a higher risk of:

  • Cancer
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Reproductive and developmental issues
  • Pregnancy complications

And high fructose corn syrup isn’t the only sweetener with GMOs: beet sugar is also high GMO. Luckily, cane sugar does not - so, at least with cane sugar, you’re not getting that extra added chemical.


Why Things Have Changed

Anyway, the increased awareness of the health risks of corn syrup - as well as general health concerns with sugar - over the last few years is creating a healthier environment overall.

In this new era, a lot of companies are going sugar-free, using sugar alternatives like Stevia and moving away from sugar and high fructose corn syrup.


There’s Still Bad News

Looking at the bigger context though, we still have a long way to go. Even though sugar use is down, the consumption of other harmful things is up.

Specifically, if you compare the 1970s to the current time, there has actually been:

  • A 44% decrease in the consumption of milk
  • A 33% decrease in the consumption of beef
  • A 193% increase in cheese consumption
  • A 1600% increase in yogurt consumption (unfortunately, we’re talking about sweetened yogurt with added sugar)
  • A 12.7% increase in grain consumption
  • A 180% increase in corn consumption
  • A 300% increase in corn sweetener
  • A 110% increase in chicken consumption
  • A 270% increase in vegetable oil consumption
  • A 190% increase in soy consumption

Now, there are some interesting things to keep in mind with these statistics.

First, when it comes to corn sweeteners, keep in mind that high fructose corn syrup and regular corn syrup are very different. Corn syrup is 100% glucose, while high fructose corn syrup, again, is 53% glucose and 42% fructose.

In any case, though, I personally believe that increased consumption of corn sweeteners has had a significant impact on obesity.

What about chicken? People are consuming more chicken because they think it’s healthier. But here’s a video on chicken that shows that chicken is definitely not very healthy.

Then there are vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are seed oils like corn, canola, soy, or cottonseed oil. They’re all GMO. In my opinion, the consumption of these vegetable oils has created a huge problem in our guts and our livers, causing issues like weight gain and cardiovascular concerns.

Finally, soy. This is very relevant since soy is in so many different popular foods, like:

  • “Keto-friendly bars,” which contain soy isolates
  • Diet shakes
  • Vegetarian or vegan meat substitutes
  • Soy milk

Now, soy has been directly associated with lowering sperm count. Scientists suspect that this is because soybeans are rich in isoflavones. These proteins are phytoestrogens, which may also play a role as endocrine disruptors.

That’s why this isn’t great either.



Overall, the good news is that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are gradually on their way out. Personally, I think this is because of the great awareness of the ketogenic diet.

That said, we still have many other things to be aware of and cut out of our diet. If you’d like to see my full recommendations, you can check them out here.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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