Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Harmful?
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Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Harmful?

Is high fructose corn syrup healthy to eat -- or should you look out? Expert answers about this common ingredient.
Question: "I keep seeing high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in the foods I buy. Should I stay away from it?"

That would be difficult. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a very common sweetener, composed of about 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose -- in other words, just another form of sugar, explains Elisa Zied, RD, author of So What Can I Eat?! (Wiley, 2006). It isn't necessarily harmful; the main problem with HFCS is that it's often found in high-calorie foods that are otherwise devoid of nutrients.

"Some research shows a connection between HFCS-laced beverages and weight gain, but there's still no solid proof," says Milton Stokes, RD, chief dietitian at St. Barnabas Hospital and Nursing Home in New York City and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Consider the overall healthfulness of foods -- their fat, calorie, fiber, and vitamin content -- rather than obsessing about a single ingredient.

Originally published in Fitness magazine, April 2006.