The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar

Posted on 05-May-2016 by Kripa Jalan

The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar

If sugar were a person, it could have wrecked our cars or even assaulted us physically and we’d still love it. It’s a classic tale of unrequited love. Yes, sugar addiction is real. It’s no secret that we absolutely adore sugar-laden foods. Be it in a mid meal snack or simply as dessert, there seems to be no substitute for it. Only if you could eat all the sugar in the world and still remain in the best shape of your life. With evolution our diets have come to be rich in refined carbs, energy dense and processed foods, with negligible nutritional value. It’s easy to blame sugar for your expanding waistline and deteriorating health. Demonise the food manufacturers all you want, but you’re solely responsible for what you put down your throat. So in some ways yes, a moment on the lips does mean a lifetime on the hips. But there’s much more to the story than that.

Let’s dig deeper into some of the popular alternatives:

Honey: Given that it’s not processed, it retains most of its antioxidants and nutrients. Most of the sugar content stems from fructose which enters the blood at a slower rate than glucose. It might just be a healthier alternative to common table sugar.

Maple Syrup: Real maple syrup (not maple flavoured) , like honey, has some redeeming qualities. It’s unprocessed so still retains some minerals like manganese and zinc. Add to that list antioxidants that could help lower Type 2 diabetes. It’s almost entirely sucrose which breaks up into fructose and glucose in the body. As previously stated that could create havoc for your blood sugar levels, so use it minimally.

Stevia: If you’re looking to lower sugar intake and cut calories, Stevia might just be your best bet. It’s a herb, it has a trace amount of calories and doesn’t affect the blood sugar levels adversely. However, it may trigger sugar cravings, owing to the fact that it’s only sharpening you sweet tooth.

Artificial Sweeteners: Like Splenda (Sucralose) & Equal (Aspartame). Do they cut calories? Yes. Are they associated with cancer, weight gain and intensifying sugar cravings? Also yes. At the end of the day these are chemicals. Use them occasionally, and it’s no big deal. However, if you find yourself going through a couple of sachets a day, it’s going to get the better of you eventually.

Long story short: 4 grams of sugar is going to provide you with the same amount of calories, whether it comes from brown sugar, white sugar, honey or maple syrup. So looking at the different sugars from a calorie point of view may be misleading. It’s a matter of looking at the quality of the product, the other nutrients it brings and the downside of the same. Sugar isn’t essentially your enemy (within limit, of course), added sugar is. In an effort to increase the shelf life of products, manufacturers remove anything that’s nutritionally significant. They often replace it with High Fructose Corn Syrup or sugar under some other disguise so as to enhance taste.
Don’t be fooled by labels. Just because a food item is labelled “sugar-free”, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You’re not fooling anyone when you substitute honey, for white sugar. A tablespoon or two a day and you’re good. But if you find yourself heaping spoonful’s of the sticky stuff or sachets of potentially lethal chemicals into your food/beverage, you need some serious rethinking.

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