THE MANY FACES OF SUGAR AND HOW YOU CAN EDUCATE YOURSELF TO READ LABELS

Hey guys!

I am back to blogging now that I have relaunched my site. Hope you guys love the new layout, and some of my new features, products and free gifts.

I wanted to kick off blogging again with a chat on sugar. Sugar has been the talk of the century, seriously though. Some say too much is bad, then the raw vegan crew eat tons of fruit and say sugar is not the enemy. However I think we can all agree on the fact that the enemy here is processed sugar. 

The white stuff. The stuff you see in packaged goods, and added basically everywhere. Although it’s good to be aware of processed sugars, companies are doing everything in their power to hide it from you.

Basically what I mean is, just because sugar isn’t at the top of the list—and it likely won’t be—doesn’t mean whatever food or beverage you’re perusing isn’t packed with it.

Sugar shows up in different clothes

Sugar comes in many different forms, and in many different levels of unhealthy. You may be surprised to find huge amounts of it in foods specifically labeled as “healthy” or “low fat” or “sugar free” like yogurt or energy bars.
You will find forms of sugar listed by up to 61 different names on various packages and labels. YES 61!
Sometimes, it will be listed by three of its names as the fifth, sixth and seventh ingredients. Don’t let this throw you off. Combined, those slightly different forms of sugar may outweigh all of the ingredients listed before it.

Depending on your country, most manufacturers may not be required to specify how much of the sugar contained in a given item is naturally-occurring (such as in fruit) and how much is added. The less added sugar you are consuming, the better a product is for your body.
By being aware of sugar’s most common forms and names, you will be much better armed at working out the good from the bad.

Following are some of sugar’s aliases, complete with distinguishing characteristics

> Sugar, Sucrose, Cane Sugar, Cane Juice Crystals, Beet Sugar

This is basically plain white sugar, also called table sugar. White sugar is a product of sugar cane or sugar beets. In its original, or “raw,” state, it is less toxic and better able to be used by your body. But most white sugar has been genetically modified, and is linked to a wide range of auto immune diseases and health conditions.

  >High-fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Sugar, Corn Sweetener, Glucose-fructose

These pseudonyms of sugar are even worse for you. To produce high-fructose corn syrup, the sugar molecule found in corn is broken down into its separate parts, glucose and fructose.
Absorbing fructose like this causes obesity, blood sugar problems, and promotes diabetes, cancer and heart disease to name only a few.

>Brown Sugar, Confectioners’ Sugar, Glucose Solids

These are also all forms of processed sugar. Brown sugar also contains molasses. Confectioners’ Sugar contains corn starch.

 >Agave Nectar, Xylitol

Although these are often marketed as healthy alternatives to regular sugar, there is some controversy about these two. Agave nectar, like corn syrup, is almost entirely made of fructose which has shown itself to be the most dangerous part of sugar.

Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol, often promoted as a sweet sugar-substitute. However, it is difficult for your body to digest, causing unpleasant problems like gas, and it’s often highly processed, making it unnatural and toxic long term.


Sugar’s Many Substitutes

Processed sugar, in all of its forms, provides absolutely nothing good for you, and can even be detrimental to your health. It is basically empty calories with a whole range of unwanted side effects.

The following natural sweeteners on the other hand, will satisfy your sweet tooth and your body’s needs. It’s important to remember though, that sugar should only be consumed in moderation. Your body only needs and responds to very small amounts of even the most natural of sugars.

1. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup also works well for general sweetening, baking, making granola bars, etc. It does have a strong, though pleasant, flavor, which may limit what you choose to use it in.
2. Stevia
Stevia is a sweetener extracted from the leaves of a flowering plant, meaning it is not “sugar” at all and contains no calories. Because of this fact, it is an especially good choice for people struggling with blood sugar or weight issues.
Remember that with Stevia, a little goes a long way.
3. Coconut Sugar or Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut sugar is an easy substitute for sugar, as you can use it cup for cup; that is a cup of regular sugar can be replaced with a cup of coconut sugar but I usually use only half of the required amount in a recipe.
Its low glycemic level means it is not nearly as likely as white sugar to cause sugar highs and lows, and coconut sugar is packed with healthy minerals.
4. Dried Fruit,Pineapple Juice and Banana Puree
Dried fruits like dates, raisins and cranberries are great sweetener choices for protein bars, pies and desserts. Not only are they completely natural and tasty, they provide important dietary elements like fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Pineapple juice is often used as an additional sweetener in all-fruit jams, and can also be used on its own with practice.
Bananas are a naturally sweet fruit, and one may be all you need to sweeten up a fruit smoothie.

Just remember to give ingredient labels a double check, and don’t let sugar sneak into your diet under unsuspectingly.

So I hope that with today’s article you learnt a little something about sugar, and its many forms and how you can stay aware when shopping for foods.

 

As always,

Stay Happy and Healthy!

Alessia x

References:
www.sugarscience.org
www.webmd.com
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, www.ajcn.nutrition.com

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