Sugar! The love for sugar is real. Even if a person says they do not like sugar, their savory or salty dishes are, unfortunately, filled with sugars. Sugars are in salad dressing (even fat-free salad dressings), condiments, cereal (even low fat cereals), fruit yogurts (low fat, tends to be replaced with high amounts of sugars), processed meats, non-dairy kinds of milk, spaghetti sauces, etc. Though many “health” foods contain low amounts of calories and or 0% sugars on the label, some people may see words they may not recognize. A lot of the time, when a product says 0% sugars, it is classified a 0 % because the sugars aren’t as “refined.” Let us take a moment to explore sugars and why so many people around the globe are struggling with obesity and chronic illnesses.
The World Health Organization links dietary sugar intake to obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases. So why is it that sugar is produced so heavily in our meals? According to guidelines, more than six teaspoons of sugar a day will lead to chronic health problems such as diabetes, and weight gain which could lead to heart attacks, strokes, and even death. Sugar has become a part of many people’s daily lives even if they do not realize it. From savory to sweet food products, they contain sugar and or sugar substitutes. Obesity is continuing to be a problem across the globe. Many people often wonder how they are gaining weight on low calorie already made meals. Without truly understanding the nutritional labels on one could be eating upwards of 20 grams of sugar in their premade package meals. Children are not taught much about nutrition in schools as they once did. With the lack of education on nutrition, many people are confused on the topic. People struggle with understanding what foods are healthy and unhealthy. With the ranges of facts and opinions from dieticians and nutritionists, it can be hard to understand who to listen to. Many people who are struggling with their weight because of the sugar intake they fail to realize are in processed foods. Weight loss is not an easy subject to understand when science continues to change. Facts continue to change and develop, so when trying to understand what foods are good to eat, it is understandable how difficult it can be to understand.
The history of sugar goes back to a time when people rarely ate sugar. So when did today’s refined sugar additions deprive? Sugar Cane. Mostly fed to pigs, people did not have sugar in their diets, and even when there were sugars in their diets they chewed on sugar canes themselves. The problem with sugar cane is through the processing of the actual plant, with heating, cooling, and stripping away of the fats and the fibers leave us with only calories. This is what we call refined sugars today. Sugar goes through your bloodstream and gives energy, however, if this energy is not burned off, then fat is formed in the body. Based on sources, MRI’s were done to show the effects that sugars play in the brain. Turns out that the signals that give the “reward” signaling go off when sugars are consumed. Does it matter what type of sugar we eat? No, Rather a person consumes honey, Maple syrup, brown sugar, or refined sugars, they are all the same, and are not good in large quantities. So by replacing refined sugars with honey or maple syrups in your daily coffees or sugar, it is the same calories wise as refined sugars. A tablespoon of honey has more calories than white sugars because honey is denser and has more nutrients.
If sugar is bad for us, why are manufacturers put so much sugar in our foods? Sugar enhances the flavors in many of our foods. The manufacturer knows this. In healthy consciences food options, they often replace fats with sugars. For example, Low fat tends to have high sugars. Though it may the label says, no sugar, they use words such as dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, etc. Artificial sweeteners are 50% sweeter and more calorie-dense than just using the regular refined sugars. The food you would not expect to have high amounts of sugars do. So, for this reason, people must understand what exactly are in their foods. The sad reality is that manufacturers produce based on what will sell. If asked in an interview if they should, for example, market to food choices to children, the usual response is, “it is the parent’s responsibility.” However, how are health conscientious parents supposed to limit foods if most produced foods have sugars and names they do not recognize?
What can we use instead of refined sugars in our diets? Fruits! Though they are seen to have high amounts of sugar content, they also, like the raw plant of sugar cane, contain, vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and most importantly do not count against your daily sugar intake. An example, of how fruits can be replaced is with salad dressings for example. Using pineapple and simmering it down, can replace sugars. By using pineapple, salt-free seasonings, and olive oil, this replaces salad dresses that have sugars. Cooking at home in general will save you on the additives that are in processed foods. Having the ability to cook at home allows for those to know what ingredients are prevalent in food