5 Sugarcoated Misconceptions About Sugar That May Surprise You
Many eliminate sugar in all forms from their diet. Here are some myths around sugar you should stop believing.
You can add natural sweeteners to your diet in moderation
- You should avoid consuming added sugar
- Avoid drinking sodas as these are loaded with added sugar
- Have a fruit when craving for sugar
What makes you indulge in the 'oh-so-good' brownie or the after-dinner ice-cream? The sweetness of course! These are delicious but you must know that refined sugar in any form is not healthy for you. However, sugar is not 'evil' in all forms. In fact, there is lot of misinformation regarding the quality and quantity of sugar in our diet. Here are some common misconceptions about sugar you should stop believing.
5 myths about sugar
1. Sugar in all form is bad
When you hear somebody telling you that you should not have any sugar, they actually mean to say that you should not have added sugar. Added sugar is different from the sugar that is found in foods like fruits as fructose or in dairy as lactose. Undoubtedly, natural, raw sugar, is loaded with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, and other nutrients. This good sugar is a source of glucose, which is vital for providing energy to our bodies. In fact, at times, a dip in energy or mood could be attributed to low blood sugar.
2. Even minimally-processed sweeteners are not good
It is safe to consume minimally processed sweeteners like organic honey or sugarcane or palm jaggery. These sugar sources contain more nutrients compared to the highly processed ones, like white sugar. The good thing about natural sugar is that they get digested slowly, keeping you satiated. These sweeteners also help in keeping the metabolism rate stable.
While on other hand, refined sugar or sucrose comes from processed sugar beets or sugarcane. Typically, chemically produced sugar like high-fructose corn syrup, is later added to many packaged foods. This refined sugar rapidly breaks down in the body, causing insulin and blood sugar levels to soar. Since it is digested quickly, you don't feel full, regardless of how much you ate. This increases consumption leading to obesity, which is associated with an increased risk of cancer.
3. You must completely cut out the sugar
The World Health Organization (WHO) guideline says that natural sugars do not count toward daily intake. This is primarily because unrefined sugars extracted from vegetables and fruits are high in fibre that reduces blood sugar spikes. Secondly, there has been no indication about the adverse effects of consuming natural sugars like wild forest honey that is raw, unheated or the multi-flora honey that is derived from the flowers of organically-grown seasonal crops and wildflowers like mustard, niger, mahua, and Karanja.
These are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Honey varieties like Himalayan multiflora honey and wild forest honey are also highly beneficial in curing common cold and flu symptoms like sore throat and dry cough. These natural sweeteners can easily be used to substitute processed sugar. In the midst of this health crisis, you can make these immune boosting sweeteners a part of your daily routine.
4. It's impossible to not have sugar
A study by WorldAtlas suggests that sugar consumption in India in on the rise. In 2018-19, sugar consumption was around 27.5 million metric tons, higher up from 26.5 million tons in the previous year. Excessive sugar consumption has increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is hard to completely cut out sugar, a moderate approach is a better way. You can start with cutting down on the portion of your favorite dessert and swap it for a spoon full of jaggery powder mixed with ghee. This mixture detoxifies your body, helps keep the nails, hair and skin healthy. It also aids in treating anemia caused by iron deficiency.
5. Sugar-free substitutes are a good alternative
While following a weight loss regime or taking precautions due to increasing blood sugar levels, you might get tempted to turn to low or no calorie sweeteners for those sugar cravings. Regularly consuming items like sugar-free cookies and diet soda may backfire. Consumption of sugar replacements like saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are not linked to weight loss, but weight gain. An analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that these replacements pose a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, Type-2 diabetes, and, metabolic syndrome.
The takeaway? Sugar is not an evil potion when taken in its natural form. You need to be vigilant about the foods with added sugar.
(Naini Setalvad, is a Nutritionist at Conscious Food)
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