What the Fructooligosaccharide?!
My mother was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes a few years back, so not only did she alter how she eats, she became concerned about my diet as well. My mom still makes kimchi and other banchans (Korean side dishes) for us, so without my knowledge she began using this stuff as a sweetener:
I recently noticed that the corn syrup we used to have in our pantry was gone and I found this bottle. I looked at the ingredients, which were sugar, water, and fructooligosaccharide. You know how I feel about engineered foods, and fructooligosaccharide sounded like a word a 6th grader would make up, so initially, I was upset that my mom was using the stuff.
Sure, I’m trying to limit my sugar intake and my wife and I are trying very hard not to eat food that contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), but things like Splenda, margarine, and light mayonnaise that are engineered knock-offs of the real stuff don’t sit well with me. In fact, light ranch enrages me. Speaking of HFCS, researchers at Princeton found that HFCS prompts considerable weight gain. From the article:
High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars — it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose — but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose.
The researchers found that rats became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose, and they conclude with, “Our findings lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic.”
If you have 90 minutes, this is a fascinating lecture by Robert Lustig, MD. But I realize most don’t like watching YouTube videos longer than 7 minutes let alone longer than an hour, so here are my two big takeaways:
- Sucrose, or sugar, is glucose and fructose in equal proportion.
- Dr. Lustig says, “Taking in a glucose load, notice, almost none of it ends up as fat. Taking in a fructose load, same number of calories, 30% of it ends up as fat. So when you consume fructose, you’re not consuming a carbohydrate, you’re consuming fat. So everyone talks about a high fat diet. Well a high sugar diet is a high fat diet. That’s the point.”
All that to say, a lot of sugar isn’t good for you, but if you like sweets (ME!) don’t consume HFCS.
A few months back, my daughter discovered ketchup at Golden Corral. Bottled ketchup is one of those marvelous food products that contain HFCS, corn syrup AND sugar, so my wife and I are going to be trying our hand at making our own ketchup soon. We’ve also started using jams that are only sweetened with juice and buying natural apple sauce.
Back to fructooligosaccharides. I was wary of this new sweetener my mom was using because Koreans like jumping on all kinds of BS, especially if that BS was shown on Korean TV or in the Korean newspaper. Fact: Koreans love themselves some Jesus, but they trust the Korean newspaper more than the Bible. How else can you explain stuff like this?
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That really is green tea ramyun/ramen with Chlorella. Besides chlorella sounding like something that would wreak havoc on your genitals, it’s hard to believe the noodles are made with green tea, and even harder to believe Koreans buy this stuff. So yeah, I was skeptical about fructooligosaccharide.
It turns out fructooligosaccharide might be good for you. The Wiki says it’s extracted from fruits and vegetables like bananas and onions and has been a popular dietary supplement since the 90s. From the Google results, it seems fructooligosaccharides have a prebiotic effect and might cause gas. And of course, positive probiotic claims can be misleading.
So for now, I’ll use fructooligosaccharides as a corn syrup substitute for sauces from time to time, at least until more research is available, but have you had any experiences with it? Have you tried some of the supplements that are available? What do you use as a sweetener?