Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sugar, Not So Sweet Afterall!

Sugar is everywhere we look! We, by nature, like comfort foods, sweets and sugar! In fact, sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth, so it's no surprise that we tend to gulp sweetened foods and beverages! 
But why!
Humans have this preference for sugar largely because carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin which affects brain cells related to mood, sexual function, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and appetite. Thus carbs and sweets affect us more than we know it! 

Some examples of when sugar can lurk around in foods and drinks are coffee, cocktails, milkshakes, regular soft drinks, iced tea, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, salad dressings, cake mixes, ice cream, chocolate bars, jelly, cookie, pastries, sweets, knefe, croissants, cornflakes, chocolate spreads! And even though sweetened beverages are just liquids, these drinks provide you with empty calories more than beneficial nutrients and can pass by unnoticed especially in hot, humid weather, gulping one drink after another!

But sugar can be tricky, so how to detect it?
Spotting added sugar on the food label requires a bit of detective work. Food and beverage manufacturers must list the product's total amount of sugar per serving on the nutrition facts label. This is why you will need to scan the ingredients list of a food or beverage to find that added sugar! Note that all ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, yup! Therefore the relative position of sugar in the ingredient list is crucial and can give you an idea of whether the food contains a lot of sugar or just a little as compared to the other ingredients.
Added sugars go by many different names, yet they are all a source of extra calories! So here's a small list of what sugar can go by:

Moreover, if the label says "no added sugars", it should not contain any of the above mentioned sugars, although the food could contain naturally occurring sugars (such as lactose in milk for example). However, note that although these foods don't contain high sugar ingredients and no sugar was added during processing/packaging, foods without added sugar may still be high in carbs!
So in order to know how much exactly is a gram of sugar: One teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar. To put it another way, 16 grams of sugar in a product is equal to about 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar, so do the math!
Remember, your body doesn't care what the label says, it's all just "sugar"! Read the ingredients and watch out for drinks and foods that are high in sugar. Having a lot of sugar whether from food or sweetened beverages can lead to gaining extra weight, even in active people!


1 comment:

  1. Oh, wow... just stumbled upon your blog and loving it! So informative and helpful. :)