Sugar... Can't live with it, can't live without it
Human beings are wired to love sugar. The story goes that thousands of years ago, way before sugarcane and HFCS hit the market, sugar sources were scarce. Our ancestors had to go to serious efforts to obtain it, and when they did, evolution encouraged them to gorge, since... Who knows when the next time would be?
Nowadays, though, the reality is very different... Sugar is EVERYWHERE! From your low fat yogurt (10 gr) to pasta sauce (13gr), It doesn't only add the "oh so desired" sweetness, but also adds texture, color, crunch to cereal, stabilizes puddings, and even helps the leavening process in baked goods. Of course, sugar also affects our physical and mental state, in a way which probably no other natural (or man made, in the case of High Fructose Corn Syrup) ingredient does.
In his book Salt, Sugar, Fat, Michael Moss describes some of the evils of the processed food industry, when it comes to sugar. There's no doubt that there is a systematic plan behind the manufacturing and marketing of sugary products, in order to get as many people as possible hooked on their products, especially kids. There's also no doubt that there's a direct link between many of these products, diabetes and obesity. Some companies, such as Coca-Cola, refer to their loyal customers as "heavy users". And many don't know that Honey Bunches of Oats and Di-Giorno Pizza, is actually owned by the same people responsible for the world's worst addiction, the tobacco giant Philip Morris.
But what about healthy sweeteners?
Now here's another truth about sugar, that many of us don't know... Sugar is divided to Fructose and Glucose. Our body needs glucose for energy, but fructose finds it's way directly to the liver, where it's automatically converted to fat... which in tern creates all kinds of problems in the body, from insulin resistance, increased body fat (especially around the mid-section) and fatty livers to diabetes and cancer, to name a few.
Table sugar and HFCS are roughly 50% fructose... Agave nectar (aka "healthy sweetner") is a staggering 90% , while Honey, Coconut Sugar and Maple Syrup fall somewhere in 35-45%. True, both these last 3 have a descent amount of vitamins and minerals, but is it still a good idea to consume them, when as statistics show that Americans eat 130 lbs of sugar a year???
And then there's fruit... The opinions are definitely split on that issue. Some claim that fruit is high in fiber, which helps the body process the fructose more effectively, and that you could in fact source most of your daily energy from fruit (see the 80-10-10 diet). Others, led by the low-carb/ Paleo advocates, say that it's best to have as little fruit as possible, and if you do limit them to low-glycemic fruit such as berries.
So... wherever you are on the sugar scale I'd love to hear from you! Is the news that some of your favorite foods, like low-fat yogurt or dry fruits may damage your health, a cause for upset? Or have you already cut all sugars from your diet, and treating yourself to a little blueberries satisfies your cravings?
Join the debate... Leave your comments bellow. Be well and Stay Healthy...