Home > Food > What the Fructooligosaccharide?!

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:

  1. Sucrose, or sugar, is glucose and fructose in equal proportion.
  2. 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?

Green Tea Ramyun

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?

  1. Skag
    June 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

    “In fact, light ranch enrages me.”

    This part cracked me up for some reason. I distrust anything that is “lite” or has “0 calories.” In fact, I had a “0 calorie” iced tea with “natural sweeteners” this morning, tastes horrible.

    • Pop
      June 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

      I drink brewed tea in the mornings, which is naturally zero calorie. I think it tastes pretty good.

  2. Alicia
    June 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I have to say, for the most part, I’ve eliminated a lot of sugar from my diet. I no longer require sugar in coffee, (never in tea…what kind of Asian would I be!?), haven’t drank soda in years, minimal alcohol (for financial purposes and because I get drunk too quickly) and minimal candy intake. I basically only drink water, milk and pom juice diluted with water.

    Now baking is another story. I absolutely refuse to use sugar substitutes. I use sugar. Real sugar. And because I don’t bake as often as I used to, I have no problem with this. Since I don’t eat sweets as often anymore, when I do, I won’t hesitate to eat 2, even 3 cupcakes.

    I will use local honey (from Dupont Farmer’s Market) as a sweetener – like for my Greek yogurt. But other than that, I use real sugar.

    Oh and ketchup – blech. I didn’t know there was HFCS in it – all the more reason for me to justify my dislike of it! 

    • Pop
      June 10, 2010 at 10:37 am

      Yeah, I like my “coffee” to be mostly cream and sugar, so I just don’t drink it anymore. But good job on removing all that sugar from your diet!

      And when the wife bakes, she uses real butter and real sugar. I’d much rather eat that than some artificial junk. Lately, I feel like I can’t eat anything (meat that can’t really be called meat anymore due to all the stuff the animals are injected with, dirty fruits and vegetables, engineered foods, etc…) except what I might buy at a Farmer’s market. Thankfully, there are a lot in the DC area.

      And blech. Ketchup:Alicia::Greek Yogurt:Pop

  3. Alicia
    June 10, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Yeah, I can do my coffee with just milk. I was royally pissed at Dunkin Donuts last month in PA when I ordered an iced latte and they asked if I wanted cream and sugar in it. When I said, “Um, just the milk?”, I actually got a huge undissolved layer of sugar at the bottom.

    I use real butter too – margarine doesn’t have the same consistency and if you use shortening and don’t mix it well enough, you get little patches of it in your baked good and it doesn’t taste good. If you have little patches of butter, it tastes awesome.

    Greek yogurt is so good for you! You eat tzatziki, no?

    • Pop
      June 10, 2010 at 11:26 am

      Mmmmmmmmmmm! Patches of butter!

      I do like tazatziki but I hate regular Greek yogurt. It’s all chunky and sour. Maybe I’ll try adding honey next time.

  4. Alice
    June 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Pop – my husband makes ketchup from scratch at his restaurant and it is delicious. I’ll see if I can get the recipe for you. I try to avoid HFCS too and I’m actually allergic to artificial sweetners, so I always skip the lo-cal stuff.

    • Pop
      June 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm

      ooooo! Thanks!

  5. June 11, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Wow, that’s a new one on me! I seriously thought from the post title you were making up the name of an artificial sweetener based on the myriad that exist. Have you tried stevia? That’s natural (I think it’s from a plant root–it’s sweet and I think 0 cals) but I don’t like it. Well, I like Truvia but I think that stuff isn’t really stevia–it’s like processed somehow which probably makes it not much better than sugar or splenda. I do use splenda once in a while but I’m not big on aritifical & low-cal stuff like I used to be. I finally realized that it’s better to cut back on calorie dense foods rather than try and replace them with awful tasting chemical-laden & artificial stuff. However. I don’t really buy into all this hype about corn syrup. I think the bigger problem is just that people are eating too much of it/too much in general. Eating/drinking too much causes obesity period. I’m not going to be scared of something I rarely consume. Bring on the pecan pie-muahahahahahahaha!

  6. Tu-Van
    June 11, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    If you think “lite” is disturbing, imagine having fat free whipping cream available on the store shelves. It’s not only disturbing but an oxymoron in the fact that heavy whipping cream is used to make whipped cream, which is an emulsion of fat and dairy with air beaten into it.

    As for ketchup, while it’s good to learn to make your own to minimize HFCS, the effort seems a lot for something that tastes just the same as the bottle and saves you only so many calories. For mine and the husband’s sake I make it a point to make wholesome yet very flavorful foods so you don’t have to use the stuff in the first place.

    Have you thought of using agave nectar as a sweetener? I hear it’s a great natural low-calorie sugar substitute. You may not be able to use for baking because of the chemistry involved but I hear it’s great for other foods and beverages…

    • Pop
      June 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Lite heavy cream? That’s absurd.

      And it definitely is a lot of work to do the ketchup, but since I’m already in the habit of bottling BBQ sauce, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal. The reason we want to make it though is because our daughter loves dipping her food now.

      And I’ll give agave nectar a try. Thanks!

  7. June 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I read Tu-Van’s comment and just wanted to let you know that agave nectar can be used quite successfully in baking. In fact, I just made up a recipe for chocolate banana muffins that uses it and they’re so yummy–I will be posting this week.

    • Pop
      June 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm

      Looking forward to it! Is agave nectar relatively easy to find? Or would I need to go to a specialty grocer?

      • June 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm

        It is becoming more widely available–I currently buy mine at Walmart–in Wichita it’s on the baking aisle next to the artificial sweeteners (which is kinda funny since it’s all natural). It might also be found next to the syrups. But you can def get it at health food stores. It is a syrup consistency, a little thinner than honey. It is the same cals as honey though. The light is a very mild, pleasant flavor and the dark reminds me of a mild molasses flavor. I prefer the light and my hubby (who doesn’t even like molasses) likes the dark better.

  8. the bible is bs
    January 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    fuck the bible

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