Sunday, April 5, 2015

SUGAR – What Do You Know About It?

How do we find low-calorie healthy foods when everywhere we look there are potato chips, candies, chocolate bars, donuts, muffins, and so much sodas.  One breakfast cereal which is advertised to children has the following ingredients: corn, sugar, corn syrup, modified cornstarch, canola oil and high-fructose corn syrup, along with some vitamins, minerals and artificial colours and flavours.  This is just a bowl of sugar, oil and starch.
Low-calorie healthy food is usually expensive and has a short shelf life; whereas, the sweet ‘fast-foods’ are much cheaper and usually appeal to our taste buds, especially if we are famished.  However, the worst part of all these sweet and prepackaged foods is the empty calories.  We are no further ahead to having a healthy protein meal or snack.
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors only tasted something sweet when they raided a bee’s hive for the honey, or picked fruit, and that was only at certain times of the year. 
Sources of Sugar
  1. Sugarcane is grown in tropical areas all around the earth.  At maturity, the canes are crushed to a pulp to get the juice; heated and processed into small sweet crystals known as sucrose. (table sugar)
  2. Sugarcane is the world’s biggest crop.  With this and all the sugar that comes from other plants, such assugar beets (55% of the U.S.’s sugar comes from sugar beets), maple treescorn and even coconuts, the amount of sugar produced has grown.
Natural Sugar
  • Fructose – found in fruits
  • Lactose – found in dairy
  • Sucrose – found in many other plant foods
Foods with Added Sugar
  1.  That is, sugar not naturally found in a food has tripled over the last 50 years. About 23 percent of grocery dollars is now spent on processed foods and sweets—nearly double what was spent 20 years ago. Though the American Heart Association recommends women limit their added sugar to just 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons) and men to 150 calories a day (9 teaspoons), the average American now, consciously or not, eats 28 teaspoons of added sugars a day, or more than 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  2. Most experts agree that we all eat far too much sugar: rates of obesity have dramatically increased in the U.S. over the past 20 years, and studies have linked drinking large amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages to increased risk of obesity, especially in children.
  3. One of the main concerns with eating too much sugar is tooth decay.  Bacteria that live in our mouth converts sugar into an acid that can destroy our tooth enamel.
  4. Another concern is that foods high in added sugar are also high in fats and calories; such as, cakes, pastries, candy and ice-cream
We do need carbohydrates on a daily basis within the 40 to 50% of our daily calories.  However, if we eat a breakfast of a latte and a muffin, it could add up to 500 to 800 calories; so if we are on a 1200 calorie per day program, what do we do for lunch and supper.  We can easily eat 4,000 calories a day when we add some pizza, a hamburger and a soda, bag of chips, bread and butter with supper.
It’s very important that we read Nutrition Labels to find how much sugar we are eating.  Unfortunately, sugars are sometimes listed with different names, such as:  sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, invert sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, confectioner’s sugar, maltodextrin, corn syrup, high-frustose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses.

A researcher, Robert Lustig, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco,states it like this, bluntly: “Fructose is a poison.”
He is referring to the fructose found in added sugar, the super-high levels of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup  we eat in processed foods and drinks (including fruit juices), not the lower levels found in fiber-rich whole fruit nor the sugars (lactose) found naturally in milk.  Because high-fructose corn syrup is so cheap, it has found its way into nearly every processed food, including crackers, yogurt, tomato sauce, as well as cookies and sweetened beverages like sports drinks, juices, sodas.
Watch the excellent ‘60 Minutes’ video with Dr Lustig and Dr Sanjay about sugar.

How can we reduce our sugar intake?
  • 100% fruit juices are all-natural sugar but very high in calories.  Avoid fruit juices, sodas, lemonade and other sweetened beverages, such as iced teas.
  • Top waffles and pancakes with sliced fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt rather than syrup or honey.
  • Whole-grain cereals without added sugar.  Oatmeal is delicious with a mashed banana stirred in for sweetness.
  • Eat whole fruits, cut vegetables, whole-grain crackers, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.
  • Have fresh fruit in place of a pastry for dessert.
  • Replace sweetened beverages with thirst-quenching refreshing ‘water’.

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