Thursday, April 12, 2012

0 Hidden Sugar in our food... How to identify it and make a healthier food choice...

CBS recently aired a study showing that sugar may be much worse for us than we've previously been told. They also explained that the way our body reacts to sugar is much the same as the way we react to drugs like cocaine.  The more sweets/sugars you eat the higher tolerance your body has to them and the more it takes for your body to get that “high” that it's looking for, so the more you eat. Do you see why this can be really bad for you? And they don't just mean table sugar or high fructose corn syrup – they mean ALL sweeteners – artificial and natural, including honey and maple syrup.

One of the main problems today is that we consume a tremendous amount of sugars – about 130 pounds per person per year! And you don't know that you're doing it because the majority of it is hidden in the processed foods that we eat. The scientist (Kimber Stanhope from the University of California, Davis) that performed this study recommends that we don't eat more than 100 calories of added sugar per day (this does not include the sugar that is naturally in whole foods that you eat). That's less than a can of soda. Eating too much sugar can contribute not only to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes but heart disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high cholesterol and even cancer.

Back to why you're eating more sugar than you think you are. It's because the food industry hides it, as you know ingredient labels have to show ingredients in descending order from the largest quantity to the least in the food that you're buying. So for example in that fruit drink you're having – fruit juice is listed first and should mean that your getting mostly juice, probably water will be next, followed by sugar. Not looking bad so far, right. Then you have natural and/or artificial flavors, then maybe fructose or sucrose, then natural and/or artificial coloring, and lastly perhaps high fructose corn syrup. Well if you add all of those sugars up – then sugar would really be the first ingredient, but instead they take small portions of each and distribute them throughout the ingredient list to make it look like you're consuming less sugar than you actually are.

Why do they put so much sugar into processed foods? Well there could be several reasons – beside the fact that we “humans” like sweets. One is that if they've taken fat out of something then they need to add extra sugar(s) to make it taste better. Another is that often processed foods use low quality ingredients, so in order to bump up the taste they add sugar (for example, spaghetti sauce). Below is a list of processed food items that are very high in sugar.
  1. Asian sauces
  2. Salad Dressing
  3. Jelly/Jam
  4. Spaghetti Sauce
  5. Flavored oatmeal
  6. Wheat bread
  7. Flavored yogurt
  8. Frozen dinners
  9. Bottled teas
  10. Juice Drinks
  11. Flavored waters/Sports Drinks
  12. Soda
When you're reading that ingredient label watch for how many different kinds of sugar are on the list, then choose the product with the least number of listed sugars and the lowest amount of sugar in grams, or choose plain yogurt/oatmeal and add your own fruit, or make it from scratch. When picking out jelly/jam, go for the whole fruit types. Also, watch for added food starches – this is another way that they add sugar to what you're eating, after all starch turns to sugar. Other recent studies show that consuming artificial sweeteners actually contribute to weight gain – probably because our body reacts to it like a sugar and we become addicted and want more and more sweet. So it's probably best to cut out artificial sweeteners too.

Natural sweeteners to look for:
White sugar
Brown sugar
Confectioner's sugar
Corn Syrup
HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Invert sugar
Maple Syrup
Brown Rice Syrup
Raw Sugar
Beet Sugar
Cane Sugar
Corn Sweeteners
Evaporated Cane Juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Turbinado sugar
Potato starch
Tapioca starch

Sugar substitutes to look for:
Stevia (probably the most natural and safest)
Sweet N Low

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