you are what you eat

sugar… friend or foe?


In ancient times sugar was known as ‘white gold’ and only available to the rich. Sugar has a long long history dating back to the Chinese (8th century BC) and Indians (350AD). That is a long long way back. Sugar is needed not only as a sweetener but also as a processor. Manufacturers add sugar to food products to boosts flavours, give a favourable texture and colour to baked goods, as a preservative in jams and marmalades, helps bread to rise in fermentation, a bulking agent in ice cream and baked goods and lastly, it helps balance the acidity in foods which contain tomatoes and vinegar. This just shows that even if you cut out table sugar, hidden forms of sugar are still available in many processed, baked and commercial foods. It also tells me that even if a product does not taste sweet, it still might have sugar added.

Sugar is also called sucrose, table sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin . In 2013 a whopping 175million tons of sugar was produced world wide. Articles show that even though we have cut down on table sugar intake, our intake of added sugars have actually gone up. It is not hard to believe when I have just listed all the ways manufacturers use sugar to make foods more appealing and tasty. The bad news about added sugar is that its all empty calories (lots of energy but no nutrients) that puts us all at risk of overweight, obesity and health problems that can show up as early as adolescence.

Many ‘natural’ foods also contain sugar such as fruit and milk. These sugars are less likely to cause tooth decay and other health issues. Sugar is becoming a problem and it may seem overwhelming to cut down on sugar especially if you are used to table sugar or processed sugar. The good news is that all hope is not lost.

Remember that sugar does form part of a healthy diet (in limited amounts), but in excessive amounts is detrimental to health. Research has shown that diets high in sugar and fats sets the stage for health problems (diabetes, cholesterol, tooth decay etc.). Like all carbohydrates, the body converts sugar into fuel quickly. Fats, on the other hand, are stored in fat cells to be used later.

The keys to a healthy lifestyle are as much common sense as they are scientific. You should strive to maintain a diet that includes a wide variety of nutrients from all the major food groups. When it comes to consuming sugars and fats, think moderation and choose reasonable portion sizes.

Tips to cut down on sugars

Go for water, artificially sweetened cordials, sparkling water instead of sugary fizzy drinks and juice drinks.
If you like fizzy drinks, try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water.
If you take sugar in hot drinks or add sugar to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether.
Rather than spreading jam, marmalade, syrup, or honey on your toast, try a low-fat spread, sliced banana or low-fat cream cheese instead.
Compare nutrition labels on different products to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, then go for the low-sugar version.
Try halving the sugar you use in your recipes – it works for most things except jam, meringues and ice cream.
If you use tinned fruit, discard the syrup. Or opt for the lite syrup version or canned in own juice.
Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey.

Many flavoured yoghurts also have added sugar. Flavour plain, fat free yoghurt with frozen/ fresh fruit or berries, nuts, spices or cubed fruit.

Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.
Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Added sugars are always listed on the ingredient list, and the ingredient list is always starts with the biggest ingredient first. This means that if you see sugar near the top of the list, you know the food is likely to be high in added sugars. Watch out for other words used to describe added sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey.

I have included a question on this post. I have not mentioned the answer yet, so lets see, without help from a search engine if you can guess the answer.



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