Corn Syrup - So Good, but Is It Good for You?

corn blog syrup

Who doesn't love a delicous piece of pecan pie?  Pecan pie, oh my, get into my belly! 

A key ingredient in pecan pie is corn syrup. It’s used in a variety of baked goods and candy because, unlike other sweeteners, it doesn’t form crystals, which gives food a chewy consistency. Is corn syrup bad for you? Many people confuse regular corn syrup with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), but these are actually two different products. We’ll explain that later. 

But first, a quick chemistry lesson! There are three major types of sugar: 

  • Sucrose 
  • Glucose 
  • Fructose 

Table sugar is made of sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide, which is a big word meaning two sugar molecules joined together to create one single sugar molecule. The two components of sucrose are glucose and fructose, both monosaccharides, or single-molecule sugars. 

What Is Corn Syrup?

Syrup, by definition, is a thick sticky liquid derived from a sugar-rich plant. Corn syrup is a natural product made from the sugar found in the corn kernel. It’s basically glucose suspended in water. When most of us think of corn syrup, we think of the Karo brand. (Check out the answers to these FAQs about corn syrup from Karo Syrup.) 

But wait, isn’t corn syrup bad for me? We’ve all seen blogs and articles telling us to stay away from all corn syrups because they are horrible for our health and make us fat, but the truth is corn syrup isn’t any worse than regular table sugar. With table sugar being made of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent sucrose, it has almost the same composition as high fructose corn syrup. 

What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup? 

Some corn syrup labels indicate “No HFCS.” So, what’s the difference between corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup? 

Fructose is sweeter than glucose. Manufacturers developed high fructose corn syrup, which is processed with enzymes to create a sweeter syrup. Regular corn syrup is 100 percent glucose while HFCS can be either 42 or 55 percent fructose. Because it’s sweeter than regular corn syrup, manufacturers don’t have to use as much of it in their products, which helps reduce production costs. 

For more information on HFCS and its uses beyond just a sweetener visit the Corn Refiners Association’s webpage.  

Is Corn Syrup Healthy? 

Obesity is caused by taking in more calories than we use on a daily basis for an extended period of time. The relationship between the size of your pants and the sweeteners you use, such as corn syrup or table sugar, comes down to how much you consume. Moderation is always your friend. One slice of grandma’s famous pecan pie is NOT going to kill you. However, eating five slices of grandma’s pies, no matter what they are sweetened with, is probably not the wisest decision.

So, feel free to have a slice of pecan pie. Did you know the Karo Corn Syrup website has over 30 Pecan Pie recipes? I think I’ll try them all!