Friday, 3 May 2013

Sugar: Is it really that bad?

Stevia Tea
Is it really that bad? 

Sugary foods are hard to avoid and even harder to resist. However the sugars in processed foods are particularly bad news, combining corn syrup, refined flour and unhealthy fats. Remember the problem with sugar is the refining process. 

Stevia is the latest kid on the block. It is a herb, I found the plants in a local garden centre last year and it has a lovely white flower. Steviol glycosides are intense sweeteners (stevioside and rebaudioside) extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni). Stevia ranges in sweetness from 40 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. It is a green leafy plant and I have noticed that some of the products on the market are white powder. So where has the plant gone. I recommend that you buy a green whole plant product in order to call this a natural product as opposed to a refined extract.

Sugar itself is natural, it comes from raw sugar cane and the first extract is black strap molasses. This is rich in B vitamins and is not nearly as much of a problem as refined sugar that has no nutritional value at all. Lots of new health foods are being launched including xylitol, agave syrup and stevia. I will add maple syrup to this list even though it is not currently hitting the news. 

However these are all a lot more expensive than black strap molasses. I quite like the taste of black strap molasses on toast, but it is a bit like marmite, it is not to everyone's taste. It is particularly suited to sweetening flapjacks, just add according to taste. Also you can use a mixture of black strap molasses and another natural sweetener such as dried fruit and agave syrup. 

At last we have the evidence linking sugar and diabetes. 

Is it time for the governments to limit exposure to sugar, e.g. it should be limited in aisle space, discouraging packaging and more expensive, and carry a health tax?

The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data. (1)Authors: Sanjay Basu mailPaula Yoffe, Nancy Hills, Robert H. Lustig.

Conclusion:The worldwide secular trend of increased diabetes 

prevalence likely has multiple etiologies (causes), which may 

act through multiple mechanisms. 

Our results show that sugar availability is a significant 

statistical determinant of diabetes prevalence rates worldwide. 

Remember when ever you use sugar sprinkle the confection with a generous shake of cinnamon, this reduces the sudden leap in your blood sugar and the subsequent drop 20-30 minutes later. 

In November 2011, the European Council and the European Parliament approved the use of Stevia extracts as a sweetener and a food additive. Since then a wide range of stevia-based products have hit the market. However these come as a white powder! does this sound familiar? What part of the stevia plant is pure white? just like refined sugar it is processed stevia that is being marketed heavily. Find a stevia supplier that has a green powder if you want to sprinkle or bake, if liquid infusion suits use stevia dried leaf, use a teaspoon to a small jug and add boiling water. using a tea ball makes it easy, or you can use a tea strainer. This sweet water makes a sweetener your tea or coffee, I use it to sweeten stewed rhubarb, I add a little to pancakes so that added sugar isn't needed.

So yes sugar really is that bad, diabetes is associated with higer rates of obesity, heart disease and cancer. Enjoy the alternatives and enjoy life.

Dr Dilis

No comments:

Post a Comment