All You Wanted to Know About Sugar, But Were Afraid To Ask!

By Mayura Mohta
October 17, 2018
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Sugar – How Sweet is Too Sweet?

Sugar has always been a force to reckon with when it comes to our sweet tooth! Most of us remember our grandma’s words of caution. “Don’t eat too much candy – it causes the teeth to rot and triggers hyperactivity.” We brushed our teeth every night thinking that we would be safe. However, things are not so simple where sugar is concerned. Current research studies reveal that sugar not only provides empty calories devoid of nutrients but can also cause substantial damage to our health.

Did you know that sugar is less of a food and more of a drug ?

Sugar is not food. It is a stimulant and just like any other drug, it gives us a high and keeps us addicted. All humans have an inherently natural preference for sweet flavors and it gets worse when we give in and make sweets our main food of choice. On ingesting a sugary food, we feel energized, brimming with happiness and galvanized into action. After a while, our energy crashes and we are gripped by sugar cravings once again. Being human, we can’t get enough of a good thing and want more! Sugar traps us into a pleasure-giving vicious cycle that is hard to break. Giving up sugar entails withdrawal symptoms, low energy levels and bad moods. Don’t narcotics or drugs evoke the same response? Therefore, we can conclude that sugar resembles a drug and evokes the same addiction as drugs. Don’t kid yourself: sugar is NOT food.

sugar content, grocery list, sugarDid you know that many every day foods carry hidden sugar?

We are aware that jams, jellies, cake and cookie mixes contain significant amounts of sugar. However, what we fail to notice is that many of the popular foods we eat daily contain small amounts of added sugar, which can add up to a substantial amount when consumed with other carbohydrate laden foods.

It is best to limit our added sugar intake from processed and refined foods to a minimum of about 25 grams a day. This is equivalent to 6 teaspoons of sugar.

Bearing this in mind, let’s take a look at the sugar content of some every day foods we tend to consume.

FOR EXAMPLE, BREAD. LISTED BELOW IS THE SUGAR CONTENT OF DIFFERENT BREADS:

Food Type

Serving size

Calories

Sugar (gms)

White Bread

2 slices

220

4

Whole Wheat Bread

2 slices

220

The only difference is that whole-wheat bread contains fibre which prevents a sugar spike and white bread has no fibre, thereby triggering a sugar spike

MANY SAVORY FOODS SUCH AS READY PASTA SAUCES CAN HAVE ABOUT 10-12 GRAMS OF SUGAR OR MORE PER SERVING.

pasta sauce sugar content
1/2 cup pasta sauce contains 7 gms (nearly 2 teaspoons) sugar and 100 calories

Food Type

Serving Size

Calories

Sugar (gms)

Tomato Ketchup

1 Tbsp

20

4

Marinara Spaghetti Sauce

1/2 Cup

100

7

Listed below is the hidden sugar content of some popular foods: 

STRAWBERRY YOPLAIT YOGURT – AND YOU THOUGHT IT’S HEALTHY!

Sugar content, fruit yogurt, high sugar foods
1 samll tub of fruit yogurt contains 27 gms (over 6 teaspoons) sugar and 120 calories

Serving Size

Calories

Sugar (gms)

1 small tub

170

27 

Fruit Roll-Ups – and you thought its better than candy!

Serving Size

Calories

Sugar (gms)

1 piece (14 gms)

50

7

RAISINS – AND YOU THOUGHT THAT IT’S BETTER THAN HAVING DESSERT!

raisins sugar content, high sugar foods
42.5 gms raisins contain 30 gms (over 7 teaspoons) sugar and 120 calories

Serving Size

Calories

Sugar (gms)

42.5 gms

120

30

NOW LET’S COMPARE THE SUGAR CONTENT IN TERMS OF A HEALTHY FOOD LIKE A CARROT!

 

Food Type

Serving Size

Sugar (gms)

Carrot Equivalent

Orange Juice

8 oz. ( 1 glass)

24

1/2 kg

Coca Cola

20 oz.

(590 ml)Bottle

65

1.4 kg

Snickers Bar

King Size

(93.3 gms)

54

1 kg

LET’S COMPARE SOME POPULAR BREAKFAST CEREALS:

high sugar cereal, sugar content, frosted flakes
1 bowl of frosted flakes has 25 gms (over 6 teaspoons) sugar and 275 calories

 

Cereal

Serving Size

Calories

Sugar (gms)

Whole Grain Flakes

1 cup

(31 gms)

120

4

Frosted Flakes

1 Bowl

(75 gms)

275

25 

Did you know that Natural Sweeteners are no better than sugar ?

Natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, palm sugar and agave syrup may seem like a healthier option but may contain the same or sometimes higher calories than sugar. Many natural sweeteners have a lower glycemic index* (they do not trigger a sugar spike) than sugar, thereby preventing sugar spikes and energy fluctuations. However, do note that some of these sweeteners, despite their low glycemic index may trigger the storage and formation of harmful fats. They can also promote addiction to sweet flavors.  Some popular ones include agave nectar, maple syrup and honey. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners as well.

Did you know that sugar does more harm than good ?

The sugar in natural foods is measured in the form of Carbohydrates (they have no added sugar). Compared to the white, the brown bread contains fibre which binds the sugar and thus prevents sugar spikes from the Carbohydrate in the bread (that is converted in to sugar on digestion) and has beneficial vitamins and minerals as well.

 

FIBRE CONTENT:

 WHITE RICE VS BROWN RICE

Rice Type

Serving

Carbs (gms)

Fibre (gms)

White

1 cup

45

0.6

Brown

1 cup

45

3.5 

WHITE BREAD VS BROWN BREAD:

Bread Type

Serving

Carbs (gms)

Fibre (gms)

White

1 slice

14.7

1

Brown

1 slice

14.7

2.1 

REGULAR PASTA VS WHOLE WHEAT:

Pasta Type (cooked)

Serving

Carbs (gms)

Fibre (gms)

Regular Pasta

1 cup

40.7

2.5

Whole Wheat Pasta

1 cup

30.86

6.3

Keep it simple and check food labels of all ready-packaged foods for sugar content . If it is excessive, avoid it. Understand that the food industry thrives on added sugar to get consumers hooked. Avoid ready-packaged foods as they have added sugar. Cook at home as you can control how much sugar you add.

We cannot deny the pleasure that sugar and sugar containing foods give us. On a bad day a chocolate, candy or ice cream is all we need to feel good. However, this short-lived pleasure leads to long-term problems. Sugar is the main culprit that is responsible for several lifestyle diseases such as type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, inflammatory diseases and premature aging. Sugar suppresses immunity and causes mood swings, energy fluctuations in adults and hyperactivity in children.

Did you know that that sugar can be swapped ? 

  • You can substitute shredded apple instead of sugar in porridge or kheer/ rice pudding.
  • Honey, dates or jaggery(unrefined sugar) can be used in milk shakes. In most cases, these natural sweeteners might have a similar sugar content, but slightly higher nutritional benefits as opposed to sugar.
  • Bananas and dried fruits such as raisins, berries, figs, dates , apricots, can pureed or mashed.
  • Opt for sugar free jams that include natural fruit as an ingredient and no added sugar. These are available in local grocery stores.
  • Restrict adding extra sugar to your meals.
  • Try to get over the extreme sweetness of sugar by cutting down on highly processed and refined foods.
  • Read labels and choose only those foods that are low in sugar. Every food has a different sugar composition. Ready-foods have a label, the rest can be calculated on online calculators as per your recipe on nutritiondata.self.com/

Sugary foods should be occasional treats. Remember, indulgence can only lead to addiction. Learn to cook with naturally flavorsome whole foods. However, remember to limit your intake of sweet fruits. Regardless of the source, excess sugar is converted to fat and stored in the body.

Try this naturally sweetened breakfast muffin by recipe developer and nutritionist Mayura Mohta to get started. 

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SUGAR FREE APPLESAUCE RAISIN MUFFINS

Makes 10

INGREDIENTS:

1 egg

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1-1/2 cup homemade applesauce

2 cups plain flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

3/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 180°Celsius. Line a muffin-top pan or regular muffin tin with paper liners, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, butter and applesauce. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon powder. Add the wet mixture to the dry flour mixture and beat well to form a batter. Stir in the raisins and pecans, and mix well to combine.

Use a tablespoon to evenly fill the muffin cups until they are full up to the 3/4 mark. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with cream cheese.

*The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.

More info: http://www.glycemicindex.com/index.php

 

Try out these healthier alternatives to your desi grocery list, recommended by our health coach. Or if you’re craving something savoury, there’s always the green casserole. Read up on our Food and Health section for more recipes, or follow our YouTube Channel for healthy cooking videos!

 

Mayura Mohta is a nutrition strategist with 3 cookbooks under her belt. With a background in Biological Sciences, she considers herself an evolving nutritionist and keeps her work updated with current scientific research. Her kitchen is a laboratory where she experiments with different foods to develop tasty nutritional treats. Her goal is to empower people to make smart food choices, eat mindfully and to tune in to individual dietary needs. Through her writing, she provides her readers with the tools and information to inculcate intelligent eating habits and achieve this goal.

 

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About Mayura Mohta

Mayura holds a Master in Microbiology from University of Mumbai, India, and runs her own webpage and company by the name of Health Friend. This is a social enterprise which aims to provide health education and build a healthier life style for all.

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