High fructose corn syrup is a low-cost sweetener that replaced sugar in thousands of products over the past 30 years. In 1970, Americans consumed less than a pound of the syrup per year. In 2010, the average American consumed over 60 pounds per year, according to research from Princeton University. Manufacturers started reducing use of the product in the late 2000s because of concerns that it contains mercury and has led to record levels of obesity, according to The New York Times. Still, a check of many food labels shows the ingredient remains a staple.
Many baked goods, including English muffins, rolls and white and whole wheat bread contain high fructose corn syrup. The syrup helps baked good achieve a brown crust and retain moisture.
Pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, ketchup and barbecue sauces typically contain high fructose corn syrup, which is used to balance the tart tomatoes and bring out the flavors of spices.
Soft drinks use high amounts of the syrup as a source of intense sweetness. It also helps stabilize flavors over the long shelf-life of the drinks. Diet soft drinks do not usually contain the syrup.
Most breakfast cereals, particularly sweetened ones, contain high fructose corn syrup. Cereals aimed at adults also often contain the syrup even if they don't taste especially sugary.
Fruit drinks often contain high levels of the syrup. It is used bottled juices, drink pouches and in frozen concentrates. High fructose corn syrup has a lower freezing temperature than other sweeteners, and that makes thawing faster.
Processed foods such as lunch meats, dinner sausage, macaroni and cheese, boxed meals, packaged lunch meals and other processed foods contain the syrup because it is inexpensive and provides a long shelf life.
In an effort reduce calories from oil, many salad-dressing manufactures add high fructose corn syrup instead. Low-fat and low-calorie dressings tend to have higher levels of the syrup than dressings that are made with olive or another kind of oil.
Many yogurt brands contain the sweetener. Even flavors or yogurt lines that are called "all natural" and "organic" contain high fructose corn syrup.
Many liquid cough suppressants and expectorants contain high fructose corn syrup. Flavored varieties designed to taste better for children tend to have higher amounts of the sweetener.
- Mayo Clinic: High Fructose Corn Syrup: What Are the Health Concerns?
- Princeton University: A Sweet Problem -- Princeton Researchers Find That High-Fructose Corn Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain
- New York Times: "Sugar Is Back on Food Labels, This Time as a Selling Point"
- Environmental Health: Mercury From Chlor-Alkali Plants: Measured Concentrations in Food Product Sugar
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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