Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Eating More Sugar Than You Think
(The Best Years in Life) The word is out on sugar, and smart consumers trying to avoid it have started reading food labels. But manufacturers have smartened up too, and learned that calling sugar by another name fools people into thinking there is less sugar in their products. They know that label readers have caught on to the fact that ingredients have to be listed in order, from the largest amount contained down to the smallest. By using different names for sugar, manufacturers can split the content among the different names, putting the idea of sugar further down on the label without actually reducing the amount of sugar in the product. But the truth is that sugar by any other name is still sugar.
Sugary products in “health food” stores is a recent phenomenon
Once upon a time health food stores did not carry products containing sugar. Today what we think of as a “health food store” is really a type of hybrid resulting from the cross breeding of true health food stores with traditional grocery retailers. These new stores are trying to capitalize on a healthy image, while their shelves are stocked with products containing processed sugar, often listed by one of its other names.
Evaporated cane juice is one of the other names showing up in many products on the shelves of both hybrid and conventional grocers. It is available in a variety of forms that vary in texture and flavor. Because it has not undergone the final processing step that removes the last bit of molasses, it is slightly darker in color than white sugar. However, evaporated cane juice and white sugar are both sucrose, and both contain 400 calories in 100 grams.
Sugar by any other name is still processes food
Both evaporated cane juice and white cane sugar have been heavily processed to remove molasses content. During this processing the vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, and trace elements that make molasses highly nutritious have been stripped away, leaving one of the purest chemicals ever manufactured. Only miniscule amounts of vitamin A and calcium remain in evaporated cane juice, with even lesser amounts of these remaining in pure white sugar. Following processing, white sugar is 99.9 percent sucrose, and evaporated cane juice is 99.5 percent sucrose. Turbinado sugar, considered the least processed of any of the forms of sugar, is 99 percent sucrose.
Whether sugar is eaten in the form of white sugar, evaporated cane juice, turbinado, sucanat or any of the other names for it, its effect on the body is the same. When eaten in large amounts, or eaten in small amounts without fats or protein, each of them will produce an insulin spike, weight gain, immune system suppression, and increased chance for diabetes.
The terms raw sugar and natural sugar are more words used by the manufacturers of today, but the terms are misnomers. What is referred to as raw sugar is partially processed from sugar cane at a sugar mill and then shipped to a refinery for final processing. In this stage, it is about 98% sucrose. Truly raw sugar that has not been processed is unfit for consumption and is not sold. The FDA notes that true raw sugar is “unfit for direct use as food or as a food ingredient because of the impurities it ordinarily contains.” These impurities include plant residues, bacteria, mold, and dirt. They make up the 1 percent difference between true raw sugar and turbinado.
All sugar is processed from sugar cane or sugar beet plants, and the two types of plants are used interchangeably. Genetically modified beet sugar is already on the market and comprises almost 100 percent of the North American beet sugar crop. Genetically modified cane sugar is in the works and expected by 2015. Since any product or ingredient labeled simply as sugar can come from either beet or cane sugar or a combination of both, there is no way to tell whether the sugar you are eating is genetically modified or not, unless it is clearly labeled as organic.
True high quality brown sugar is made by cutting short the refinement process and leaving a bit of molasses in the sugar for taste and color. But common brown sugar sold in conventional grocery stores is made from processed white sugar with the addition of caramel food coloring. Some brown sugar is even made by processing white sugar through animal bone charcoal to add color.
The big difference between evaporated cane juice and granulated sugar is the price, which runs about 8 to 10 dollars a pound for evaporated cane juice compared to about 1 to 3 dollars a pound for white sugar. Manufacturers who market their products as evaporated cane juice know the public is seriously trying to avoid eating sugar and needs to be tricked into eating it anyway, at a higher price.
Why eating sugar is so compelling
Our collective sweet tooth goes back to the days when we lived in caves and life was more a physical event than a mental one, as it is now. We needed to eat foods high in nutrients in order to have energy to get through the physical challenges of the typical day. Sweets eaten back then were primarily berries and other fruits that contained beneficial nutrients, enzymes and many phytochemicals to keep people going strong. Back then, a sweet tooth was not a bad thing.
Today, sugar craving is not often answered by a piece of nutritious fruit, but instead by a processed concoction that tastes sweet but from which most nutrients have been removed. Our sugar craving still exists for the purpose of compelling us to seek high energy nutrition. Until that nutrition is obtained, sugar craving continues, leaving today’s people in a vicious circle in which more nutrient depleted sweets are eaten, and more sugar craving signals are sent. For many, sugar laden foods have almost completely replaced nutrient dense foods, with obesity and health issues as the results.
Buying expensive products made with forms of sugar that sound like they have been less processed and contain more nutrients is a way of eating sugar while sugarcoating our consciences. It is an excuse to eat sweets, made even better if the product is organic. But the best sounding sweetener in an organic product is still just the sucrose that results from processing. It is not a whole food.
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For genuine good health, give your sweet tooth some fruit
The bottom line is that we have been hardwired to have a sweet tooth. Nature has provided the means for satisfying our cravings through an abundance of fruits. Eating fruit breaks the vicious circle of consuming processes sugar which does not provide the nutrients needed to still sugar craving. Fruit provides the necessary nutrients to energize the body and to keep it healthy and well. Fruit is a whole food, and as such has complete integrity. It hasn't been tampered with and is backed by nature.
Anyone who engages in heavy consumption of processed sugar can break the habit by substituting fruits and vegetables. After a period of maximum nutrition with fruits and vegetables, eating processed sugar again will seem abhorrent.
When you make the decision to give up processed sugar in favor of full nutrition and good health, you break free of the manipulations and camouflages used by manufacturers to get you to spend your hard earned money on products that are harmful to your health. Breaking away from such a situation is an intense personally empowering event that can highlight your inner strength and place you in control.
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About the Author:
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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