A Dagger in My Mailbag

By Beacon Staff

Most of the letters and comments I receive from this column come via the Internet and, as you know, the reach of the Internet is global. So there are folks out there who will put in a search word or term and, presto, up pop the musings of Kitchen Guy.

So it was recently as I railed on about high fructose corn syrup. And sure enough, someone in Austria responded. Unlike much of the e-mail sent to me that may contain a brickbat or two, this person signed their real name. If that person does another search and comes up with what I am about to write, I hereby apologize if you are a she and I call you a he because your first name gives me no clue as to your sex.

Haitse v.d. G. begins his letter in a pleasant enough way:


The problem with HFCS is only that corn is used to produce a perfectly palatable sugar rather than a cheaper process. In that you are right, the growers have a lot at stake for this market.

But then, we start to go downhill:

It is the same molar (presumably he means molecular) and hence percentage and weight for weight distribution of fructose and glucose as normal sugar and consequently is just as bad as sugar if you over eat it. Biochemically, fructose is stored and metabolised the same as normal cane sugar fructose or fruit fructose.

Okay. I know that. But now my Austrian friend is getting exercised as he continues to write:

I get really frustrated by continually reading folk having some deluded proposition about fructose when the amount of refined and raw sugars we eat has sky rocketed since the start of the industrial age.

Believe me, Haitse, I share your frustration about people yammering on when their propositions are deluded, but I think you may have missed the point of the column even though you go on to make a valid point of your own and one that I wholeheartedly support. But seriously, asking me to keep any kind of comment to myself? Really? As for the science part, what makes you think I don’t know the science? He writes, thusly:

I would ask you as a chef to keep scientific comment to yourself as you probably aren’t in a position to actually make informed comment about sugars (as evidenced by the lack of any scientific information in your article). You are just exacerbating a ridiculous unformed argument where both sides never state the true problem, we eat too much and fat gets stored instead of burned because our sugar intake is too high.

Oh yeah? Fructose is a type of fruit sugar. If our body needs sugar (for energy) and fructose is a type of sugar, where is the problem? Fructose has the exact same chemical formula as glucose (C6H12O6) but has a different shape. Because of this unique shape, it is approximately 73% sweeter than table sugar and is actually cheaper to use in manufacturing processes because it is acquired in massive amounts from corn, subsidized to the tune of $3.9 billion each year by the Feds.

Once the sugar is dissolved in your tomato ketchup, it doesn’t matter what the sugar source is, you just have fructose and glucose in solution. As a chef, I might have expected you to research this before publishing.

As he keeps writing, he keeps getting nastier and I don’t know why, so here’s some more science for him (and you, if you care):

The metabolic breakdown of fructose in the body is different than glucose. When glucose is absorbed during digestion, it passes to the liver then is distributed to the cells of the body through the blood. However, fructose goes to the liver and is metabolized there instead of being dispersed. One of the byproducts can lead to the synthesis of glycogen, an energy storage molecule kept in the liver and muscles. Once the glycogen stores in the liver are full, the process seems to shift to the production of triglycerides, which are essentially a form of fat. Triglycerides play a role in energy for the body and transportation of dietary fats. High levels of these chemicals can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Please, look up the first page of any biochem 101 text (the one freshmen get handed as they walk into the lecture room). Have a good peek at how foods do get gobbled up and what the consequences of a high glucose level in the blood means.

So, mein Herr (or mein Fräulein), without having any biochemistry books in my library, I think I have proved my point once again that high fructose corn syrup instead of regular sugar isn’t good for you. But why must you toss these insults?

Just say it nicely. I’ll get the point. Pretty please, with sugar on top.

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