High Fructose Corn Syrup vs Corn Syrup Solids – What’s the Difference?

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Recently I received a question from Mike through the Fearless Fat Loss contact form, asking if high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup solids are the same thing, and if they are both “just as bad for us”.

This is a great question and I mentioned in my reply that I might just turn this into a post eventually, but now that it’s on my mind here it is!

Corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and high fructose corn syrup (as well as crystalline fructose) are all made from corn, and bottom line, all are sugar. So, first off, because they’re sugar, my opinion is that they are all damaging to your health, just because sugar is so damaging.

Each of these ingredients will give you cravings for more sugar, and foods that list high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or fructose as one of their top 4 ingredients are overeating traps. These ingredients actually interfere with a hormone that tells your brain that you’re full! Therefore, it’s very common to overeat on foods that contain HFCS (or even the latter two).

Actually, in my experience, it’s easy to overeat on foods that contain any kind of processed sugar, or even foods high in natural sugar. The difference with HFCS, corn syrup, and fructose is that they stop the communication between your stomach and your brain until it’s too late and you’ve already overeaten.

I wrote a previous post regarding corn syrup solids, but it wasn’t on the topic of how it compared to high fructose corn syrup. So, I did some more research to find out just how different corn syrup solids are from high fructose corn syrup, which meant getting into how they are made. Here’s what I found out:

  • Corn syrup solids contain dextrose sugar. Dextrose sugar is 3/4 as sweet as sucrose (cane or beet) sugar.
  • Another name for corn syrup solids is corn syrup powder. This is interesting, I thought it was a liquid, but it’s not!
  • Corn syrup solids are manufactured from corn syrup liquid through a process that removes 97% of the water from the liquid.
  • High fructose corn syrup is made from corn syrup through an enzymatic action that converts the dextrose sugar (in the corn syrup) into fructose sugar. HFCS is sweeter than corn syrup, which is why you find it in so many foods both processed and fast food, and especially sodas (the corn syrup isn’t sweet enough to be used in sodas).
  • There are further processes that are run depending on the percentage of fructose desired in the high fructose corn syrup.

To sum up, corn syrup solids are in a powder form, HFCS is a liquid. Corn syrup solids are not as sweet as HFCS, however it’s all sugar in the end. Corn syrup solids are dextrose sugar, and high fructose corn syrup is fructose sugar. It’s all sugar, though!

If you don’t have a problem with sugar cravings, sugar binging, sugar addiction, or food abuse of foods containing these ingredients, then you shouldn’t have a problem eating in moderation the foods that contain them. However, I wouldn’t say that they are healthy, since they don’t contain any nutrients, and sugar creates so many problems in the body.

If you would like to learn even more about the manufacturing process of corn syrup, check out this link. It’s a long read, but quiet interesting, especially the first paragraph that states that corn syrup is used to:

“provide an acceptable taste to sealable envelopes, stamps, and aspirins.”

Wow, that’s very interesting. Is that why George’s fiancé (Seinfeld) died from licking all of those envelopes? In all seriousness though, did you know that corn syrup was added to these products?!

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  • Eric Leh

    My 3 yr old son was on Neocate (alternative to milk due to extreme milk allergies) since he was 2 months and is suspected Autistic. After seeing a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctor, we were told to stop Noecate because it’s 50% corn syrup solids. Most DAN practitioners prescribe Gluten/Casein/Sugar/Soy Free diets. He was also downing a lot of bananas 4-6/day. Since we stopped both of these 2 months ago, he’s become lethargic, depressed and has an insatiable appetite. His thyroid levels show low Free T3/T4 levels but normal TSH (2) which is odd since TSH tends to be high when the T2/T3 are low. What’s concerning is that he’s lost all fat in his body and so it looks to me that the body thinks it’s starving, wants to keep eating but the nutrients are not going anywhere. I am so very worried for his health. Any experience around this? Thank you kindly.

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Eric, I’m so sorry about your son. I’m not a doctor, and I honestly don’t have any experience with what you’ve described….you know what I would recommend though, just to get some more information, is the book The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children by Carol Simontacchi. She writes about the child’s brain and how it is affected by the current food industry….I don’t remember right now if she had any information on autism and I don’t have the book here in front of me, but I will come back later and add another comment to verify if she does write about autism. Even if she doesn’t, I don’t think it would hurt to read it, because she offers some excellent info on the child’s brain development and how food affects it.

    I wish you and your family all the best, and if I do find any other information through my research that sounds like it could relate to your son, I will let you know.

  • mikeV

    I came across this article after doing a search for crystalline fructose becuase I saw it listed as the 2nd ingredient in the yogurt I’ve been buying.

    I wanted to share with you the info from their site. They seem to boast about using crystalline fructose:
    from this page: http://www.mountainhighyoghurt.com/health_benefits/sweeteners.htm

    At Mountain High Yoghurt, we believe you and your family deserve only the best all natural yoghurt. That’s why we NEVER add any cane sugars, organic cane juice, or artificial sweeteners to our products We use only pure crystalline fructose, a naturally occurring fruit sugar derived from corn…..(click the link above to read the full text)

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Eric, to follow up on my comment above, I don’t see the specific topic of autism addressed in Carol Simontacchi’s book Crazy Makers.

    She does, however, devote 4 chapters to brain development, from infant up to adolescent.

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Hi Mike,

    Yes, I’m not at all surprised that they would have a marketing spin to make crystalline fructose sound positive, they are trying to sell their product after all. Look at all of the fun, hip, great looking ads for fast food (and processed food) that you see on TV constantly. Just because there is a smiley face with it doesn’t mean it’s the most helpful to the body.

    In the end though you really put yourself in your own drivers seat of your body and your mind when you choose to take 100% personal responsibility for everything you decide to put into your body…and your Mind. It’s a choice.

  • Eric Leh

    Thanks JoLynn for your support. I do appreciate it. More bad news from my end. Just got back Urinte Toxic Metals and Essential Elements test and he’s over 2x the danger limit for mercury and also on the high end of Thallium. I suspect and trace this now to his MMR vaccination at 18months.

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Hi Eric,

    Wishing all the best to you and your son!

  • Terence

    Hi JoLynn,

    I came across this post of yours and don’t you think you should qualify your statements that “sugar is bad for you”? Perhaps you mean processed sugars or overconsumption of sugars? Obviously carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, which are necessary forms of energy for the body. The post just didn’t seem to convey the idea, instead seemingly suggesting that sugar as a concept “causes the body so many problems.” Just a suggestion and thanks for the topic.

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Hi Terrance,

    Yes, the topic in this article is the difference between HFCS and corn syrup solids. I’ve written others on the topic of sugar.

  • http://www.mcnewsletters.com Michael Collins

    Hi JoLynn, great blog. Thanks for taking the time to excerpt that corn syrups “provide an acceptable taste to sealable envelopes, stamps, and aspirins”.

    Never really thought about that before.

    What is ironic about people who take in high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or fructose in appreciable doses is that they are usually the ones who ask how they can lose weight with fat burners!

    My colleague Eugene has a saying “if you’re taking an asprin everyday because you hit your head with a mallet each morning, I think you’re probably barking up the wrong tree”.

    Quite simply, avoid taking in these sugars and “miraculously” you wont need fat burners.

    Thanks JoLynn.

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Hi Michael,

    You’re right that if you cut out the refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup being just one of them, that you won’t have any need for “fat burners”. I really don’t get the diet pill or fat burner topic as it is. They’re quite expensive and I’d rather spend my money on whole foods that I can actually chew and eat, since I need to eat (healthy foods) to lose weight anyway. And, those whole foods do not contain any high fructose corn syrup.

    That’s a pretty funny line about the mallet, thanks for sharing it!

  • ingrid

    How come a product like cremora can list corn syrup solids and sugar as ingredients yet have 0 sugar listed on the product nutritional label.

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Hi Ingrid,

    What you want to always look at are the ingredients of a product like you did, and not the nutrition panel.

    The reason is because there are loopholes that the FDA has laid out for manufacturers and labeling. Check out this article of mine on sugar-free labeling….just because the label says sugar-free, doesn’t mean it is.

  • Amy

    Is Corn Syrup Solids gluten?

  • http://www.fearlessfatloss.com JoLynn Braley

    Hi Amy,

    Corn Syrup Solids are another form of refined sugar – it’s sugar made from corn.

    Gluten is a part of wheat that many people are allergic to. So when you see foods that are labeled as “gluten free” it doesn’t mean that it’s sugar free.