After learning about the potential health dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup from a friend, and reading all the bad press about HFCS, I decided that from then on, I would use a variety of corn syrup substitutes for all my home cooking.
But I didn’t know what the alternatives were to corn syrup, and if these alternatives were healthy or not, so I decided to set up an appointment with my dietician to ask her these questions.
She was glad that I came and that I was in interested in knowing about the alternatives to corn syrup, because corn syrup, she said, is one of the contributors to obesity, diabetes type II and liver damage.
These are the recommendations she made for alternatives:
This is created from the sap of the maple tree, it’s all natural and a good substitute for corn syrup. There are different grades of maple syrup to suit your needs, from subtle to stronger flavors. Maple syrup also maintains much of its nutrients, such as potassium and calcium.
You can also use good old granulated sugar; all you need to do is mix ¼ cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar and simmer in a frying pan until all the sugar has melted. This will give you one cup of syrup that can be used for cooking.
Honey is a great natural substitute to corn syrup. Honey contains small amounts of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and proteins, which have an overall positive nutritional effect on your body.
Agave nectar is not as natural as maple syrup or honey, but nevertheless it is still less processed than corn syrup. Agave nectar is also sweeter.
Golden syrup is similar in color to corn syrup, but is an entirely different product. Golden syrup is made from cane sugar juice but is more concentrated. Golden syrup is 25% sweeter than normal sugar.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup can be used as an alternative, although it can be harder to find. It gives you less of a spike in blood sugar so it’s better for you in terms of fluctuating blood sugar levels.
My dietician told me that due to the popularity of sweets and candy, many manufacturers created HFCS to cut costs and increase their profits. The reason behind this is that fructose is much sweeter than glucose and therefore they could use less of the fructose to give the same amount of sweet taste.
She also mentioned that as well as eliminating corn syrup for a healthier alternative, we should also look at cutting down or eliminating processed foods and drinks that contain HFCS. Meaning we should avoid sodas, candy, packaged and processed foods, and canned foods.
So there are many alternatives for corn syrup that are generally much healthier too. Note that even replacements should be taken in moderation, since in all cases the substitute is glucose. But this usually is better for you than fructose because glucose can be more easily processed by your body, whereas fructose can only be processed by your liver, which is potentially dangerous to your health.
It’s been a long and illuminating journey, but I feel that, in the end, since I’ve found so many better options for my body, it was worth the effort.
And when Princeton University quotes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in stating that “In the 40 years since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed”, you know it’s time for a change.