What You Should Know about Sugar - Rivertea Blog
Monica Munteanu | On 04, Jul 2013
Sugar is part of your daily diet whether you like to admit it or not. There’s nobody to blame. When we were kids all we wanted to eat were sweets and desserts, now we sweeten our coffee and I bet there’s not a household near you where you will not find a jar labeled ‘sugar’.
We have to admit, it makes our days sweeter and excites our taste buds. Could you imagine going more then two or three days without any dessert? However, we are all aware that there are many downsides to sugar.
We know you like to be well informed, so we looked into what everyone is raving about and put together a guide on everything you should know about sugar.
What sugar is
We add it to foods and drinks to make them sweet, but what hides behind it? Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, that has no nutritional value, except that it’s pumped with calories which give your body energy. It can be found natural in most plants, but it’s mostly extracted from sugarcane and sugar beets.
Basically, if the ingredient ends in ‘ose’ it’s sugar. These are the 4 basic types:
- glucose: is found natural in fruits and plants and our body uses it to burn energy.
- fructose: is sugar found in fruit and it’s incredibly sweet.
- sucrose: is sugar found in the stems of sugar cane, the roots of sugar beet and alongside glucose in some plants.
- lactose: is milk sugar.
This is all naturally occurring sugar actually, which you can find in organic food. Added sugar, however, is made by processing one of the two plants mentioned beforehand. They are harvested, processed and refined in order to resemble the white crystals we all know and use in our daily nutrition. This process drains the product from all its minerals and vitamins, turning it into empty calories.
Apart from its delightful taste, sugar is added to foods for another number of reasons. For example, it serves in the fermentation of bread and alcohol and, also, as a preservative for jams.
Sugar – white or brown?
When sugar is extracted from plants, it actually has a darker, brownish color caused by a compound called molasses. To make it white, manufacturers bleach the sugar and remove the substance. So, brown sugar is obtained by adding the molasses back.
Although brown sugar is said to be healthier, this is not really the case. The molasses does bear a number of minerals, such as potassium or calcium, but in a very small amount that doesn’t add a nutritional value to the body. In addition, a tablespoon of brown sugar has one calorie more than the regular one. The only notable difference is in taste so, in the end, it’s just a matter of preference.
Why sugar is bad for you
Sugar is related to a number of health issues, the most common and dangerous being diabetes. Apart from that we have selected 3 major health-related concerns that seal the case against it:
1. It has too many calories.
The main problem here is that it doesn’t fill you up fast enough, so it’s very easy to absorb a large amount without realizing it. This could be dangerous to your health as it leads to weight gain in the long term.
2. It shuts down the immune system
When consuming a large amount of sugar, it can stop your immune system from responding to challenges. Eating sweets several times a day may make you prone to getting sick more quickly and more often. It can also prevent the body from fighting against bacterial infections.
3. It’s addictive
When eating sugar, dopamine is released to your brain, giving you pleasure. The more you eat it, the more your body seeks it and, ultimately, becomes addicted.
How to limit your sugar consumption
If you’ve come this far, you’re probably thinking you’re never touching that thing again. You shouldn’t reject it completely though, because a small amount of sugar won’t hurt you. To be more specific, the World Health Organisation recommends a daily dose that’s less than 10% of your total calorie intake or about 50 grams.
If however you feel like you need to cut down your sugar consumption check these suggestions out:
1. Use fruits as a sweetener, replacing sugar in recipes or just have them for dessert
2. Use raw honey, it’s full of nutrients.
3. Cut back on the sugar in your recipes, you can start by reducing the amount by a fifth.
4. Stevia is another way to go for recipes or as a sweetener in drinks. It’s very sweet, natural and doesn’t have any calories.
5. Give up any sodas or sugar-sweetened beverages; instead try a fruit smoothie or tea. Watch out for cocktails as well, because they may contain sugar as well.
6. Try eating dessert only once a day. You can also reward yourself with a treat when you get home from work, for not having had sweets the whole day.
7. Read the packaging carefully: sugar can be found in many products nowadays . Just because something appears to be sugar free, doesn’t mean it is so make sure before you buy. For example, you can find sugar in foods such as bread, milk or salad dressing.
How do you feel about sugar now, after getting to know it better? It’s just like any other ingredient really: if you consume it moderately, it’s great, but if you have too much of it, it can have undesired consequences on your health. Be safe and informed.
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