We have more energy today than we need.
According to the United Nations , we have 13,630 Kilojoules per person per day. Government bodies recommend that we limit our intake to 8,700KJ per.
The role of sugar and its alternatives in our diet has been the subject of much debate. Let’s look at the products on the market to see what they mean for your health.
Sucrose, the most popular form of sugar in Australia, is made from cane stalks. Raw sugar is made from cane stalks that are dried and juiced. Then it is refined to make white sugar.
The light colour of white sugar is due to the absence of molasses, which is present in raw sugar. Brown sugar is mainly white sugar mixed with molasses. This makes the sugar a bit stickier.
Raw sugar is the least refined of the three. It’s nutritionally the same as brown or white sugar.
Sugar and its alternatives have been the subject of much debate. Shutterstock
Sugar is an “empty kilojoule food” because it contains a lot of energy but very little else.
There’s no proof that sugar alone will make you gain weight unless you’re already eating a lot of food. However, if you’re a big person or not, too much sugar is unhealthy.
Sugar consumption is also strongly linked to decay of the teeth and obesity with the intake of sugary drinks.
Some suggest that fructose has a greater influence on obesity than any other sweetener.
It isn’t true; fructose can be used like any other sweetener.
In Australia, we use more sucrose than the high-fructose Corn Syrup that dominates US food. The fructose in fruit, honey, and refined fructose doesn’t play a major role in weight gain.
If you are watching your weight, it is best to consume this natural sugar in its original form.
It has a lower glycaemic (GI) index than other sugars. This means that it is absorbed more slowly by the body. It is the main source of sweetness for low-GI foods.
Honey and Syrups
Honey is a simple sugar made up of fructose as well as glucose. Our bodies readily absorb this sugar. Honey is sweeter because the sugars are separated.
It means you can cook with less sugar and more honey. This also means fewer kilojoules are consumed. If you substitute a teaspoon of sugar with a tablespoon of love, it will actually add about 25% more kilojoules.
Honey and other syrups, such as agave from a succulent plant, contain more micronutrients. Some, such as rice bran, contain more calories and have a higher GI rating than sugar.
Syrups may contain nutrients that sugar doesn’t, but this does not make them healthier. You can get the nutrients you need from other foods.
Steviol glucosides, which are found in the leaves of a Paraguayan shrub, are incredibly sweet. The powder or liquid that results after purification is 200 times sweeter compared to sucrose.
Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener. A teaspoon of most sweeteners based on stevia contains four kilojoules. The same amount sugar has 67.
Its consumption is not harmful to teeth or blood sugar levels.
Equal, for example, contains aspartame. Flickr/Bukowsky18
Aspartame, a sweetener without sugar, can bind with our taste receptors. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar. This is why you can use such a small amount in food or drinks.
Aspartame consumption in excess has been linked to lymphomas and other cancers. The sweetener is safe to consume for humans, despite the hoax that caused alarm.
The European Food Safety Authority published the draft results earlier this year of a comprehensive report showing that at the current levels of consumption, aspartame, and its metabolites do not pose a toxicity concern to consumers, except for those who have a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria.
Logically, aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener. People who use it instead of sugar or non-sugar sweeteners will lose weight. This is not true.
According to studies, sweeteners like aspartame increase appetite and cause people to prefer sweet food. This increases their calorie intake.
Has also linked the consumption of sweeteners like aspartame to metabolic syndrome and diabetes, but for reasons that are yet to be determined.
Make informed choices
Sugar is not bad for you, but consuming too much can be harmful.
You should not be tempted to eat more calories by substituting sugar for other macronutrients, such as fat or protein. Be careful not to increase your portion size because you are eating “sugar free” foods.
If the label on a food product says that it is “sugar-free”, then its kilojoule count may still be the same if sugar has been substituted with another type of sugar or carbohydrate, such as syrup.
Unprocessed food is the basis of a healthy diet, with the occasional treat planned and discretionary. Stick to smart, healthy eating instead of unthinkingly following the newest fad.