Healthy Corn Syrup Substitute

Corn syrup is used in all sorts of food products because it is cheap to produce, tastes sweet and mixes well with many types of food. Critics of the extensive use of corn syrup say it is more harmful to humans than regular sugar. Amid the controversy surrounding corn syrup, many people are looking for more nutritious and natural sweetening options. According to a study by the biochemistry department of Virginia Tech, substituting more natural sweeteners can have healthful benefits such as increased antioxidant activity equal to that of a serving of berries. While corn syrup still remains popular, there are several other options.

Three bottles of maple syrup. (Image: creighton359/iStock/Getty Images)

Maple Syrup

Harvested from the sap of a maple tree, this syrup is an all natural and sweet substitution for corn syrup. There are several grades of maple syrups to suit your taste. These range from subtle to strong or robust flavors. Unlike corn syrup, maple syrup maintains the nutritional benefits of calcium, potassium and other minerals. Use an equal amount of maple syrup in a recipe requiring corn syrup.


Honey can be used in amounts equal to the corn syrup specified in a recipe. Nutritionally, honey contains small amounts of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and proteins. According to a study by the Swiss Bee Research Center, "honey has a variety of positive nutritional and health effects, if consumed at higher doses of 50 to 80 g per intake." A 50 g measurement equals about 3.5 tablespoons.

Simple Syrup

A simple syrup can be made to substitute for corn syrup in a recipe. To make it, mix 1/4 cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Next, add these ingredients to a sauce pan and simmer until the sugar has melted. Remove the pan from the heat. This should produce 1 cup of simple syrup, which is equal to a cup of corn syrup in a recipe.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is another less processed alternative to corn syrup, but it is more processed than maple syrup or honey. This syrup is also sweeter and has a lower glycemic index than corn syrup. To use agave nectar in a recipe, use 3/4 the amount of corn syrup specified. You may also need to reduce any additional liquids, depending on the recipe.

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