Sugar, Salt and Fat are present in almost everything we eat and drink. This week I begin a 3-part series which will talk about some of the most misunderstood additives in packaged foods. These additives are often misinterpreted on ingredient labels, and their corresponding side effects are dire. Through marketing gimmicks and false advertising food companies across the globe have succeeded for generations in selling us products are loaded with sugar, salt and fat.
Sugar comes in many forms. Table sugar or regular sugar as most of us know it, is comprised of fructose and glucose. Fructose is derived from fruits, our bodies don’t produce it, while glucose is created by our bodies for energy. Taken in the right amount, sugar can increase energy levels, improve one’s mood and provide nourishment to the body. However, a large majority of us consume almost more the five times the recommended level of sugar intake in a day. Almost all of us consume it indirectly.
Child obesity, type two diabetes and hypertension are some of the many health problems that can be directly related to excess intake of sugar. Sugar is said to have the same effect on our minds as opiates do. Excess of it causes our brains to release feel-good hormones, i.e., endorphins. Most food companies have worked out something called a sugar bliss point; the exact proportion of sugar in a cola or cake that would cause our brains to release these endorphins and keep coming back for more. This is now also being used in non-sweet packaged foods like sauces, biscuits and even bread. A tablespoon of tomato ketchup has approximately 5gm of sugar, that’s more than a chocolate chip cookie.
There are numerous companies and dieticians that now promote sugar free alternatives or diets that completely eliminate sugar. These entities often have their own agendas behind it: to make you buy their product and not their competitors. Simply cutting out all desserts from your diet wont make you healthier and consuming excess of sugar free alternatives won’t help either. Unless seriously ill, like in the case of diabetics, nobody needs to go completely sugar free. What we do need to do is become aware of the hidden ways in which we consume sugar and cut down our intake of those products to achieve better health.
Below is the amount of sugar present in an average serving size:
Mc Vites Digestive Biscuits : 17gm (1 cube)
Cranberry Juice: 36.3gm (7 cubes)
Low – Fat Yoghurt: 25gm (5 cubes)
A slice of White Bread: 10gm (2 cubes)
Fruit Smoothie: 12.6gm (2.5 cubes)
- In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
- Salt, Sugar & Fat: How the Food Giants hooked us by Michael Moss
- Why ‘sugar free’ is insane dietary advice by Sharon Natoli. Published on 8th June 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-sugar-free-insane-dietary-advice-sharon-natoli
- Sugar Love: A not so sweet story by Rich Cohen, National Geographic, published in August 2013. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/sugar/cohen-text