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SUGAR FACTS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY NEED TO KNOW

Sugar, often only thought of as the granulated substance you manually add to food, is one of the major disease-causing contributors facing humanity – among the long list being some of the biggest killers’ diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Even if you are cautious about how much sugar you add to your food, you may be blindsided by products and foods you didn’t even know contained bad sugars. The question is; how do you know which sugars are good, which are bad and how much you can have?

“Many people are understandably confused by the substantial differences between what various experts advocate as being healthy. Some foods, for example, contain healthier sugars and are actually better for you than foods that are ‘sugar free’,” he says.

NATURAL SUGARS

The body is designed to break down natural sugars into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream in order to “power” all cells. Nature never provides natural sugars without fibre; so when eating a whole food, your liver gets drip-fed fructose, which it converts to glucose. However, if you have a direct and excessive supply of fructose (like in a canned fizzy drink), it puts pressure on the liver which can be turned directly into fat.

REFINED SUGARS

Here are a few surprising sweeteners that are just as bad as sugar:

  • Heated honey – when heated, the nature of honey changes into a fast-releasing simple sugar.
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
  • Milk sugar (lactose)

WHOLE FOODS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Q: If sugar is in my fruit or vegetables, does it matter how much I eat of them? The answer is yes, some whole foods have sugars similar to the effect of white sugar.

  • Dates
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes

PROBLEM PROCESSED FOODS

Processed foods are generally a bad idea when it comes to health, however there are some that claim to be “sugar-free” and healthy. While most look at the sugar content on the packaging of processed, it is often assumed that when the words “natural sugars” are used, that the product is healthy. More often than not, the foods listed above are added which is more or less the same as adding sugar.

TOP CHOICE FOR HEALTH

Xylitol is the best sweetener to look out for in both processed food and for use at home. Found naturally in cherries, plums and berries, xylitol has little effect on blood glucose levels.

HOW MUCH?

“The most important thing is to have less sugar overall and get your sweet “kicks” primarily from whole foods. You can wean yourself off having a sweet tooth by gradually decreasing the level of sweetness in foods and drinks.”

“Also, by combining protein with carbohydrate foods, you can slow down the speed at which the sugars are released, lowering the GL (Glycaemic Load) of the food,” says Patrick.

A GL of 10 or less is good and Patrick’s recommended GL intake for sustained health is 50 GL points, or 15 GL’s with each meal.

The best way to ensure you are monitoring how much sugar you consume each day is to use Patrick’s Glycaemic Load (GL) calculator to find out the GL values of foods.