Press Releases

Fructose Confused With HFCS

Fructose Frequently Confused With High Fructose Corn Syrup
Ongoing misunderstanding over terminology can lead to consumer confusion

October 16, 2008

CONTACT: Audrae Erickson, President
(202) 331-1634

WASHINGTON, DC—As researchers continue to examine the role of sweeteners in the diet, it’s important that people understand the differences among various ingredients used in scientific studies, according to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). Commentators who incorrectly treat as interchangeable two distinctly different ingredients, such as pure fructose and high fructose corn syrup, create factually incorrect conclusions and mislead consumers.

Studies using pure fructose that purport to show that the body processes high fructose corn syrup differently than other sugars due to fructose content are a classic example of this problem because pure fructose cannot be extrapolated to high fructose corn syrup. The abnormally high levels of fructose used in these studies are not found in the human diet. Fructose consumption at normal dietary levels and as part of a balanced diet has not been shown to yield such results. Moreover, the presence in high fructose corn syrup of glucose in combination with fructose is a critical distinguishing factor from pure fructose.

Following are some facts about high fructose corn syrup and fructose:

  • High fructose corn syrup contains approximately equal ratios of fructose and glucose. Table sugar also contains equal ratios of fructose and glucose. High fructose corn syrup and sugar are equally sweet and both contain four calories per gram.
  • Fructose is a natural, simple sugar commonly found in fruits and honey. The absence of glucose makes pure fructose fundamentally different from high fructose corn syrup. This is because glucose has been shown to have a tempering effect on specific metabolic effects of fructose.
  • There is no difference in how the body metabolizes table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Once the combination of glucose and fructose found in high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are absorbed into the blood stream, the two types of sweetener appear to be metabolized similarly using well-characterized metabolic pathways.
  • High fructose corn syrup meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for use of the term “natural.” It is made from corn, a natural grain product and contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives.

The American Medical Association in June 2008 helped put to rest a common misunderstanding about high fructose corn syrup and obesity, stating that “high fructose syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”

Learn more about the latest research and facts about sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup, by visiting and

Editor’s Note: Interviews available with health and industry experts available.

Related Link: What Science Says about Fructose , article by the International Food Information Council in the July/August 2008 issue of Food Insight.


CRA is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.

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