Sugar, the devil in disguise

Sugar, the devil in disguise

Sure, once in a while a sweet treat can lift your spirits, but eaten in too large a quantity, sugar may have serious consequences on a person’s health.

Different types of sugar

We are all familiar with table sugar, that good old white stuff. But did you know that glucose, fructose, lactose and maltose are also sugars that are naturally present in fruit, vegetables and dairy products?

Manufacturers often add many of these sugars to food products during processing to add taste, improve texture and act as a preservative.

To your health!

In theory, all sugars are made equal: your body transforms them into glucose, a form of sugar that circulates in the blood and supplies the necessary fuel to cells for them to function. Many sugary foods also contain a lot of fat and calories and few nutritious elements.

Soft drinks, cake, and jam certainly taste good but they take away your appetite and leave little room for healthy food. Eating large quantities of sugar can lead to health problems, such as:

  • Being overweight: sugar increases calorie intake, which can only be burned off by physical activity
  • Type II diabetes and heart disease: sugar consumption promotes the formation of triglycerides–the chemical form of most fats present in the blood. An abnormally high level of triglycerides is a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses
  • Pancreatic cancer: due to overproduction of insulin

Know how to read the labels

  • Glucose, fructose, lactose: all words ending in “ose” that are added sugars.
  • No added sugar” means during processing no sugar was added to the naturally occurring sugars.
  • Ingredients appear in order of their concentration in the product; a tip – if sugar is the first item on the list, it’s an indication that there is probably too much of it in the product.

Cutting down on sugar is possible!

The following are a few tips for satisfying your sweet tooth and enjoying a nutritious snack at the same time:

  • Develop a taste for natural foods while gradually reducing the quantity of added sugar or by choosing varieties that are not as sweet.
  • Enjoy desserts that are sweet but nutritious too. Who doesn’t like date squares, rice and bread pudding, or fruit crumble? They offer an excellent compromise!
  • Eat three meals a day at regular times. A good way to nourish your body and mind and put the kibosh on temptation.
  • Go for whole grain cereal products, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are rich in natural sugars and starches and reduce the urge to snack.

There’s no point to completely eliminating sweets from your diet. The sweet-tooth craving might simply be too much. A piece of cake or slice of your favourite pie now and then won’t hurt you. So, on those special occasions, go ahead and indulge!