Is white sugar truly the villain it’s made out to be?
I was once told by a nutritionist friend that anything white like sugar, salt, white flour/ maida is bad for you! I got so worried that I started drinking my tea sugar free! But have you ever wondered if the sweet white sugar is really a villain? Sugar is something which raises so many childhood memories! I remember the cheeni/sugar roti which mom used to make or the buttered pav with sugar sprinkled on top with tea or best even the spoonful of sugar to be swallowed if something was too spicy! My little foodie never leaves an opportunity to eat a spoonful of sugar even if something is mildly spicy!
I researched a bit on sugar and came across some alarming information. While sodium which is present in salt has been blamed as a culprit in hypertension/high blood pressure, the real culprit is also this innocent looking white sweet crystal—sugar! Did you know sugar lurks in so many of our treats like pastries, cookies, cakes. It also hides in the form of fructose in processed foods, packaged foods, breads, juices, candies, even sauces and everyone’s favourite – ketchup!!
Sugar is present in a lot of things we consume and its alarming increase in our diet is worrisome! This is especially so because not only grownups but even our children are getting addicted to this white sweet sugar!
How is sugar harmful for us?
Sugar can cause higher occurrence of high blood pressure and heart disease!
Added sugar, especially the one in sweetened beverages, can increase blood Pressure. It is also associated with increased incidence of hypertension and heart disease.
It can cause weight gain/obesity, and high blood sugar
Fructose turns off the appetite control system which can cause you to eat more and develop insulin resistance. Also, Sugar has calories and the more calories you consume, the more the odds of being overweight!
Weight gain has been associated with hypertension and heart disease. So, if the daily sugar intake of a person exceeds 25 % or more, studies have shown that chances the person can die of heart disease are more than for someone who just consumes 10% of the sweet stuff! It is also seen that excess sugar can cause fluid retention which can lead to further problems!
Sugar can damage your liver
Too much sugar or fructose is a dietary villain as it will directly reach the liver. This can be likened to the effects of excess alcohol on liver. It can overload the liver and cause it to fail!
Excess white sugar can also increase uric acid levels, cause cancer cells to multiply faster, cause cognitive diseases, Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders and much more!!
Now the burning question is how do we curb this desire to eat white sugar or cut down on it?
- Avoid Processed food
Sugar if consumed in its natural form but in moderation is not essentially bad. So, we should avoid it in processed foods, sugary drinks, refined carbs like bagels, breads etc and even grains. Keep fructose consumption below 25% even from natural fruits!
- Include healthy fats in your diet
Add foods rich in both saturated and monosaturated fats as well as omega-3 to your diet. These include nuts, avocado, nut butters, organic milk.
- Eat fermented foods
Kombucha, yogurt, (best is homemade yogurt from organic milk), kefir etc. are examples of fermented foods and probiotics one can have in order to cut down the load on the liver.
- Manage your stress
If the first thing you reach out for is cupcakes when you are feeling troubled, it is a sign that you are stressed. So, managing stress is one of the key factors in keeping sugar cravings under control. Try meditation to overcome stress.
Beware of the hidden white sugar
On a more serious note, avoid sugar substitutes. Read labels of the ingredients mentioned on packaged foods. Put off buying it if the first few ingredients mention high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, molasses, invert sugar, to name a few. Keep an eye open for the following terms of sugar syrup ending in ‘ose’ like fructose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, sucrose and lactose are mentioned.
According to CDC, the following are the sources of added sugar:
|Rank||Food group||Proportion of average intake|
|Source: CDC, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–06.|
All said and done everything in moderation is the key. Sugar can be consumed up to 150 calories or 9 teaspoons or 36 grams per day by a normal healthy individual. So instead of questioning whether sugar is the villain; let’s make it a hero by consuming it in moderate amounts.
Geeta Hansaria is a homeopath with a passion for writing, especially food poems, binges on DIY kid crafts and cooks up yummy ‘thalis’ for her vast Instagram fan following.