Does Sprite high fructose corn syrup?

Sprite is a popular lemon-lime flavored soda that is marketed by The Coca-Cola Company. There has been some debate over whether Sprite contains high fructose corn syrup, which is a sweetener made from corn that has been linked to negative health effects.

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, Sprite does contain high fructose corn syrup. Specifically, Sprite is sweetened with a blend of sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup and/or sucralose, according to the ingredients listing on a Sprite can or bottle. So while it contains sugar/sucrose, it also contains high fructose corn syrup as one of its main sweeteners.

Ingredients in Sprite

Here are the ingredients in Sprite, according to the product labeling:

  • Carbonated water
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Citric acid
  • Natural flavors
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Caffeine

As you can see, high fructose corn syrup is listed as the second ingredient after carbonated water. This indicates that it is a significant ingredient in Sprite in terms of quantity.

Purpose of High Fructose Corn Syrup in Sodas

High fructose corn syrup serves several purposes in sodas like Sprite:

  • Sweetness – HFCS is added to provide sweetness to balance the tartness of the citric and phosphoric acids used in sodas.
  • Preservative – The high fructose corn syrup helps stabilize the shelf life of sodas by preventing spoilage.
  • Texture – HFCS influences the mouthfeel and viscosity of the soda.
  • Flavor enhancer – HFCS can enhance certain flavors in citrus sodas like Sprite.
  • Low cost – High fructose corn syrup is cheaper for soda manufacturers than using solely cane sugar/sucrose as a sweetener.

HFCS Content in Sprite

The exact amount of high fructose corn syrup in Sprite has changed over the years along with the formulation. Currently, a 12 fl oz can of Sprite contains around 31-39 grams of total sugars according to the Nutrition Facts label. Some portion of these sugars comes specifically from the HFCS.

By comparison, the same serving of Sprite in the 1990s likely contained around 46 grams of sugar, more of which came from HFCS at that time before they rebalanced the sweeteners.

HFCS vs. Regular Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is distinct from regular corn syrup in its fructose content:

  • Regular corn syrup – contains 100% glucose which is less sweet than fructose
  • HFCS – contains a blend of 45% glucose and 55% fructose, which makes it intrinsically sweeter than glucose alone

This higher fructose composition makes HFCS an efficient sweetener for processed foods and beverages like Sprite.

Variations of Sprite and HFCS

There are some variations of Sprite that contain differences in high fructose corn syrup content:

  • Sprite Zero – contains no sugar or HFCS and is sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium artificial sweeteners.
  • Sprite Light – lower in sugar and calories but still contains some HFCS along with sugar and stevia leaf extract.
  • Sprite Cranberry – contains HFCS as well as fruit juice for flavor. May be seasonally available.
  • Sprite Lymonade – contains HFCS and 5% lemon juice. Limited availability.

So while the main original Sprite contains HFCS, some of the lower calorie variants may contain less or none depending on the formulation.

Countries that Do Not Use HFCS in Sprite

While Sprite in the United States contains HFCS, not all countries use high fructose corn syrup in their formulations. For example:

  • The European Union – Sprite is sweetened with sugar there due to corn subsidy policies that discourage HFCS production.
  • Mexico – Sprite in Mexico is sweetened with cane sugar rather than HFCS due to taxes on HFCS.
  • Israel – Israeli Sprite contains sucrose and glucose syrup, but no HFCS.
  • Argentina – HFCS is not allowed in soft drinks by law in this country. Sprite Argentina contains sugar and glucose syrup instead.

So in many countries outside the US, Sprite relies on alternative sweeteners like sucrose/cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup in its formulation.

Why Some Consumers Avoid HFCS

There are a few reasons why some health-conscious consumers actively avoid products containing HFCS:

  • Higher fructose content – Since fructose metabolism has been linked to fatty liver and metabolic disease in some studies, there are concerns over HFCS containing 55% fructose which is higher than regular sugar.
  • Obesity – Some research has linked increased HFCS consumption to rising obesity levels, although findings remain inconclusive.
  • Diabetes – A few studies correlate higher HFCS intake with diabetes risk, but more research is needed in this area.
  • Unnatural – Since HFCS is manufactured from corn, some see it as a highly processed artificial sweetener.

However, the scientific evidence is still unclear on whether HFCS is any worse for health compared to regular table sugar when consumed in moderation. But the concerns over higher fructose levels lead some consumers to avoid soda brands that contain HFCS.

Sprite’s Response to HFCS Concerns

In response to concerns over high fructose corn syrup, Sprite has taken a few actions:

  • Introduced artificial sweetener variants like Sprite Zero that are HFCS-free.
  • Reduced overall sugar and HFCS content in Sprite over the years.
  • Emphasized use of natural flavors like lemon, lime and ginger in their marketing.
  • Funded research into alternative sweeteners like stevia and their possible uses.

While Sprite still contains some HFCS in its formulation, these steps demonstrate that Sprite and parent company Coca-Cola understand consumer concerns and are looking for ways to adapt. However, HFCS still provides functionality for Sprite’s flavor, shelf stability and affordability.

Comparison of HFCS Content: Sprite vs. Other Soft Drinks

Here is how Sprite compares to some other popular soft drinks in terms of HFCS content per 12 fl oz serving:

Beverage Total Sugars (g) HFCS Content
Sprite 31-39g Moderate
Coca-Cola Classic 39g High
Pepsi Cola 41g High
Mountain Dew 46g Very High
Fanta Orange Soda 44g High
7-UP 38g Moderate
Sierra Mist 36g Moderate

As you can see, popular sodas like Coke, Pepsi and Mountain Dew tend to contain more total sugars and higher amounts of HFCS than Sprite. 7-UP and Sierra Mist are most similar to Sprite in terms of sugar and HFCS content per serving.

Alternatives to Sprite with Less or No HFCS

Here are some alternatives soda brands and flavors that contain little to no high fructose corn syrup:

  • Sprite Zero – The zero calorie variant contains no HFCS.
  • 7-Up Ten – 7-Up Ten contains only 10 calories and no HFCS.
  • Stubborn Soda – This craft soda brand uses cane sugar instead of HFCS in flavors like Root Beer and Black Cherry.
  • Blue Sky Soda – Blue Sky makes cane sugar-sweetened natural sodas in flavors like Lemon Lime, Root Beer, and Cola.
  • Zevia – Zevia uses stevia for zero calorie, HFCS-free formulations of Grape, Orange and Lemon Lime sodas.

Checking ingredient labels thoroughly and buying from craft soda brands that emphasize less processed formulas are good ways to find Sprite alternatives without high fructose corn syrup.


In summary, Sprite does contain high fructose corn syrup, specifically as the second ingredient after carbonated water. HFCS provides sweetness, flavor enhancement, and preservative effects in Sprite. The level of HFCS in Sprite has reduced over the years due to formulation changes. But it is still present in amounts similar to other popular sodas. Some consumers choose to avoid HFCS due to potential health concerns over excess fructose intake from sweeteners. While scientific research on the risks of HFCS is still developing, Sprite does offer artificially sweetened variants for those wishing to reduce sugar and HFCS in their diets. Checking labels thoroughly and choosing alternative soda brands can help identify HFCS-free lemon-lime soda options.

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