(0) Shopping Bag
  • World-wide Shipping
  • Free shipping over $200 (AUS Only)

Why is sugar bad for us? And what are the best alternatives?

Our society is addicted to sugar. The problem is, we don't even know it. Many of the sugars are hidden in the food and drinks we consume everyday.I’m not just referring to the dessert you had last night. A loaf of brown bread can contain 8-10g of sugar [1]. The average Australian consumes more than 40 kilograms (90 pounds) of sugar per year. This is equivalent to around 22 teaspoons or equals 1840 Kilojoules / 440 calories per day.

Sarah Wilson highlighted the “hidden” issue very well in her visit to Ikaria, one of the world’s Blue Zones. Watch the video below.

So, what exactly is sugar?

When we talk about sugar we are mainly referring to refined sugars. Most sugars come from the sugar cane plant. For every gram, there is 17 kilojoules and 4 calories. These are empty calories. That is, zero nutritional value - no vitamins or minerals. The following are some common names of refined sugars found in processed foods such as biscuit, cereals, ice cream and confectionary snacks. Remember to check your package label for these ingredients.

• Sucrose / Sucrulose
• Glucose
• Maltrose
• Maple Sugar
• Dextrine
• Corn sweetener
• Dextrose
• Raw Sugar
• Galactose
• Barley Malt
• Corn Syrups
• Levulose
• Turbinado Sugar
• Brown Sugar
• Rice syrup
• White sugar

But isn’t sugar better than fat? It burns faster, right?

No, sugar is not better than fat. Often it is better to eat full fat yogurt rather than low fat yogurt, as low fat yogurt has double or triple the sugar content to make up for the taste. Sugar plays a significant role in the formation of many diseases. A few reasons why sugar is bad includes:
• Promotes overconsumption with the taste and reward sensations.
• Suppresses the immune system.
• Leads to gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation (only to name a few).
• Contributes to hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.
• Promotes inflammation
• Raises insulin levels contributing to diabetes. Remember the slump feeling after the sugar effects have fade.
• Feeds cancer cells as cancer cells have insulin receptors. This is exactly how the PET scan works.
The videos below provides a good summary on why sugar is bad for us.

From Catalyst this is a great 18min documentary.

So, what are we recommending?

We know it’s hard to totally cut out sugar. What we are recommending is to be aware of the amount of sugar you are putting into your body, like the people on Ikaria. Try one or more of the steps below:
• Eat real or whole foods. That is, those you can hunt and gather like meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables. This ensures there are no hidden sugars.
• Minimise your intake of processed or fast foods.
• If you have to buy processed foods, read the food label. A general guide is to avoid 'Foods containing more than 15g sugars per 100g are high in sugar; low is 5g sugars or less per 100g.' [2]
• Try making your own treats. The amount of sugar is then controlled by you.
• Eat at home more regularly. By preparing your own food you know what you are getting.

Best Sugar Alternatives

For the occasional treat we've listed smarter alternatives below. You'll notice that no artificial sweeteners like Aspartame (equal), Sucralose (Splenda) & Saccharin (Sweet’N Low) are listed, as these foods are even more problematic and requires an article on it’s own. At Wodnut we prefer natural sweeteners. Our rule of thumb is the less processed, the better. It is important to remember though that at the end of the day, sugar is still sugar, in whatever form. Use occasionally, in moderation and opt for real foods.

Fruits

The best form of sweetener is fruit, dried fruits or fruit juice. The sugar in fruits (ie. 'Fructose) does not cause the same rise and drop in our blood like sucrose [the sugar found in processed foods such as cakes]. It is slowly absorbed and provides plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. While we don't recommend adding orange juice to your coffee, juices are great for adding sweetness to cakes and cookies. We also love adding dates or prunes however everything in moderation. All too often do you see the main ingredient in a Paleo dessert being dates. Ideally dates should be the last ingredient.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup defeats white sugar and honey in the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory department. This is one instance we can say, not all sugars are equal. Maple syrup contains fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals with two teaspoons of maple syrup meeting your daily equivalent of:
• 22% of manganese
• 3.6% of zinc
• 1% calories

A recent study also indicates that REAL maple syrup contains 54 beneficial compounds to our health. Read more here. Please note Mark Apple's Daily recommends "Grade B" maple syrup. This is darker, richer, more complex, and contains more minerals (and, probably just like the darker honeys, have more phytochemicals).

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar otherwise called coconut palm sugar is a natural alternative made from the sap of a coconut plant that has been extracted, then boiled and dehydrated. The positive? Unlike refined sugar, coconut sugar does contain more minerals and a fiber called Inulin, giving it a lower GI. The production is also more sustainable [3]. The negative? It's still very high in fructose. About the same as sugar and honey, so use in moderation. See Sarah Wilson's explanation.

Macro-nutrients (mg / 100gm)

Coconut Palm Sugar

Maple Syrup

Honey

Brown Sugar

Agave Syrup

Refined, White Sugar

Nitrogen (N)

202

NA

NA

10

NA

0

Phosphorus (P)

79

2

4

3

7

0

Potassium  (K)

1,030

234

52

65

1

2.5

Calcium (Ca)

8

67

6

24

1.5

6

Magnesium (Mg)

29

14

2

7

1

1

Sodium (Na)

45

9

4

2

1

1

Chloride (Cl)

470

NA

NA

16

NA

10

Sulfur (S)

26

NA

NA

13

NA

2

Boron (B)

0.6

NA

NA

0

NA

Zinc (Zn)

2

4.2

0.2

.2

0.2

0.1

Manganese (Mn)

0.1

3.3

0.1

.2

0.1

0

Iron (Fe)

2

1.2

0.4

1.26

1

0.1

Copper (Cu)

0.23

0.1

0

0

0.1

0

Thiamine

0.41

0

0

0

0

0

Vitamin C

23.4

0

0.5

0

0.5

0

Honey

Although honey is high in fructose it is a real food that has been prominent throughout human history. The composition and nutritional properties are dependent on the source of the Nectar gathered by the bees. Like Maple Syrup, generally the darker the honey the better. Honey contains over hundreds of different beneficial compounds. Recent studies have shown that honey when compared to other sugar alternatives, produced lower triglycerides, creates less body fat, provides greater satiety and has minimal effect on blood glucose. [4]

So should you eat honey? If you are healthy, active and do not need to lose weight then a little honey will not harm you. If you are overweight, diabetic or struggling with fructose and carb overload, then avoid honey as much as possible.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is the byproduct of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar. Unlike white sugar and corn syrup that contains zero nutrients, blackstrap molasses is high in minerals such as manganese, copper, iron and calcium. Below is a table from whfoods.com.

Why is sugar bad for us? And the best alternatives. | Wodnut

Look for unsulphured blackstrap molasses as these are produced from sun dried sugar cane. Sulphur is often used to process unripe sugar cane and is not good for human consumption.

Stevia (use with caution)

Stevia is a herb from the Chrysanthemum family, which has 300 times the amount of sweetness of sugar. The Indigenous South Americans and the Japanese have been using Stevia for centuries. In fact Stevia was used in the Japanese’s Diet Coke until they standardized the formula.

We've listed Stevia due to it's popularity however we're more inclined to say NO. Why no? Although natural we rarely see Stevia in it's natural form. The powder format is most common and this is often blended with sugar alcohol and bulked up with maltodextrin. Why yes? There are no calories and no Glycemic impact making it suitable for diabetics as well as weight watchers. If used with the intention to slowly reduce sugar intake, then this may be a good thing. The conclusion? Use Stevia with caution and in moderation. It's not the holy grail to our obesity problem and probably more research is required on the long term effects. The solution to obesity and sugar addition should be based on creating good habits. In some ways, providing a substitute hailed as the saviour encourages bad habits to continue.

The Bottom Line?

The issue in today's society is hidden sugars. With the push for low fat in the last 20-30 years manufacturers have been replacing fat with sugar. Experts suspect this is the predominant cause to the rise of obesity rates. Take action and eat real foods to avoid hidden sugars. If you need to satisfy that occasional sweet craving look to healthier alternatives however don't lie to yourself, sugar is still sugar no matter what form. Eat in moderation and view it as a treat. Lastly we've leave you with this interesting infographic created by: www.OnlineNursingPrograms.com

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth

References

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-126977/Secret-sugar-shock.html
[2] http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/dietandnutrition/toomuchsugar.htm#ixzz2E2IJXlQ6
[3] http://coconutpalmsugar.com/Sustainability.html
[4] http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/11/3379.full.pdf+html
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310307
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56589
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/the-sweet-solution-20121210-2b4bv.html

Wodnut

Passionate about eating healthy, training dirty and looking and feeling great. Read more on About Us.

Articles you may like

Post a Comment
Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
comments powered by Disqus
Up