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Corn Syrup vs. High-Fructose Corn Syrup

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Corn Syrup and the Low FODMAP Diet

You have probably read that HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is not recommended while following the low FODMAP diet but perhaps you have wondered what about regular ole’ corn syrup? Is it okay or is it the same thing?

I will state right here up front that this article is not meant to be the end-all of scientific and nutritional accounting of the controversy about corn syrup versus high fructose corn syrup. What I am most interested in here is how it relates to the low FODMAP diet.

Karo Corn Syrup Dark and Light - no high fructose corn syrup

But, Wait a Minute…

We are also not going to discuss contradictions here. For example, HFCS is considered off limits for the low FODMAP diet, yet ketchup containing HFCS is given a Green Light by Monash.

My focus here is to help you understand what these two ingredients are and how best to use them – or not!

Karo Corn Syrup Dark and Light - no high fructose corn syrup

We Do Sometimes Use Corn Syrup, But Not HFCS

You will find recipes on FODMAP Everyday calling for corn syrup – such as in Pecan Pie or Hot Fudge Sauce. As an invert sugar (low FODMAP) it prevents crystallization and is very useful in some recipes.

Karo Brand & History of High Fructose

We use Karo brand, which contains no high-fructose corn syrup. If you read their website’s articles carefully they say that the brand did not contain any high fructose syrup when they introduced the product in 1902 and they do not now.

There was, however, an in-between period during which their Karo syrup did contain high fructose corn syrup. I am not sure of those dates. This might be why there is confusion for some who think that their product does contain high-fructose corn syrup.

So What’s The Deal?

I am sure you have read many articles railing against high-fructose corn syrup. The main thing to know is that it is not the same as regular old corn syrup, such as the Karo.

High-fructose corn syrup begins as corn syrup but it is then further processed and modified. It is broken down enzymatically to create two different forms of sweeteners: fructose and glucose and results in the fructose being in higher proportion, making it off limits for FODMAPers.

HFCS was originally developed as a lower cost substitute for sugar, which is why you see it in the ingredient lists of so many junk foods. It is the fructose that has been linked to obesity as well as other health related issues such as Type 2 diabetes, all of which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Controversy exists even for non FODMAPers. And of course, if you react to fructose, you will not want it in your diet. “Regular” corn syrup, like the Karo mentioned, does not have this stigma attached.

Understanding Fructose Intolerance Feature Image
You May Want To Read: Understanding Fructose Intolerance, A Lesser Known Dietary Trigger


On labels in certain countries, such as Canada, you might find an ingredient listed on a prepared product as “glucose-fructose”. This is high fructose corn syrup and should be avoided.

Remember This

Here’s our simple answer in two parts:

  1. Over consumption of sugar of any sort is not recommended. Practice moderation and if you are following the low FODMAP diet, understand the FODMAP content of the foods that you do choose to eat.
  2. We think the biggest issue is with hidden sugars – in sodas, snack foods, even commercially prepared bread! High-fructose corn syrup is often used in this way. Become a label reader. You don’t want these in your diet whether you are a FODMAPer or not.

Moderation is key and we have no problem using regular corn syrup in our occasional cooking and baking.

We would rather have a slice of real low FODMAP pecan pie or drizzle hot fudge sauce on lactose-free ice cream than to find out that we ate the equivalent of sugars from ketchup, bread and other processed foods.

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