Friday, April 12, 2013

Sugar – Cant’ Live With It, Can’t Live Without It

This is the paradox of sugar. Whilst our bodies cannot do without it, it is also responsible for a host of health complications. However, problems usually arise when we overdo it; therefore the key to living a healthy life is the moderation of sugar.

Broadly, there are basically two kinds of sugars; good sugars and bad sugars. Bad sugar is the processed form found in cakes, sweets, ice cream, soda, juice concentrate, white flour products and a host of other tasty goodies that we really enjoy. Good sugar is generally found in natural foods and your body needs to work a bit more in order to break it down and use it. Examples of good sugar foods include honey, brown flour products, brown rice, sweet potatoes and other similar foods we all don’t seem to enjoy too much. Nutritionists refer to these sugars as simple and complex sugars respectively. To live well with sugar you must make it a point to consume complex sugars and keep away from simple sugars as much as possible.

However, that is easier said than done. Fighting off the urge to have an ice cream or drink a cold soda on a really hot day can be a daunting task. There are also everyday drinks such as coffee or tea which simply do not taste the same without that spoonful of table sugar. So how then do you avoid bad sugar? Well, the answer lies in sugar substitutes.

Muscovado Sugar

If you really have a sweet tooth, then you should consider using Muscovado sugar. This is an unrefined sugar made from cane juice and has widespread usage in the baking industry. The fact that it is unrefined (it is actually brown in color due a high molasses content), makes it much healthier as it has a lower calorie content compared to the normal table sugar. You can use it in your coffee, cakes, ice cream, chutney, sauces and any other food items that satisfy your sweet tooth.


Despite that fact that both honey and table sugar both contain glucose and fructose, honey has amazing antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that do wonders for the body. Honey also contains more calories per teaspoon but you tend to use less of it when using it as a sweetener because it is sweeter than normal sugar. Hence, the calorie count advantage of normal sugar is negated. Being a natural product, honey is broken down slowly and digested over a longer period of time. This is in contrast to normal sugar which can raise your blood sugar level within a very short time – the well known sugar rush - which is bad for the body. 

Honey and Muscavado sugar are natural sugar substitutes. However, there are also a few artificial sugar substitutes which will help you stay away from bad sugar. The following are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
  •       Saccharin
  •        Aspartame
  •     Sucralose
  •        Acesulfame potassium
  •        Neotame

Just read the label on the sweetener to find out which of the above is used its manufacture. However, it must be noted that artificial substitutes have been the subject of much heated debates with some organizations linking them to cancer. However, no sound scientific evidence is available to back up these claims.

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