Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

The simple answer is that sugar is one type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a whole family and sugar is the evil step brother. Just kidding! Kind of. There is no technical definition of sugar, but for the purpose of this article it will be defined as that granulated white (or brown) stuff used in baking and poured on your cereal or coffee.  Food manufacturers also add sugar to beverages and foods such as soda, juice drinks, cookies, cakes, candy, etc.  Sometimes this added sugar is listed under names such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup solids. The scientific name for white sugar is sucrose.

Carbohydrates are the broader category which includes all sweets, grains, fruit, milk, and even vegetables. Carbohydrates found in fruit are fructose; carbs in milk are lactose; and carbs in grain foods are glucose. When your body digests carbohydrates they break down into glucose when they enter your blood stream. All types of carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in your body. A strawberry will turn to glucose just the same as a piece of bread or a tablespoon full of sugar will turn into glucose. The difference is that the strawberry contains vitamin C, fiber, and approximately 80 calories for 1 cup. On the other hand, 1 cup of white sugar (sucrose) contains zero vitamins and fiber, and has a whopping 770 calories. Of course, most of you are not going to eat a cup of sugar, but you may drink a soda which contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.

If you ever turn a food package around and look at the label (which I hope you do!) you may notice that it shows carbohydrates, dietary fiber and sugars. Basically, the more fiber it has the healthier it is, and the less sugar it has the healthier it is. Fiber is also a carbohydrate, but it is indigestible and it moves through your body helping to lower your cholesterol and promote regularity. Fiber can also help stabilize your blood sugar.

Overall, carbohydrates provide fuel for your body and should not be avoided. There are both healthy carbs (whole grains, fruit) and unhealthy carbs (sugar), and with a bit of balance and moderation you can happily consume both types :).




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As a nutritionist, this is a question that I am constantly hearing. The truth is that eating a lot of sugar DOES NOT give you diabetes mellitus (DM).

Slightly embarrassed I had Cocoa flavored cereal in my pantry...

“The myth that sugar causes diabetes is commonly accepted by many people. Research has shown that it isn’t true. Eating sugar has nothing to do with developing diabetes” (American Diabetes Association).

There you have it, straight from the horses mouth. Then why do people believe that they will develop DM from eating a lot of sugar?

  1. The greatest risk factor for developing type two diabetes is central adiposity, AKA, being overweight. If you are overweight or obese you are at greater risk for developing diabetes.
  2. It is true, that once you have DM it is important to monitor and limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugars consumed.
  3. I am a nutritionist; of course I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat a lot of sugar. However, if you are of a healthy body weight, and are metabolically healthy in terms of lipids, go ahead and eat some cake.

Of course, like most chronic diseases, there is a huge genetic component to diabetes. If anyone in your family has DM, you are at greater risk. In this case, it is even more important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly, and to see a registered dietitian if you need help.

I would love to hear your opinions and questions on this subject. Have you been told that eating too much sugar will give you DM?

Happy Eating,

Heather Mason, MS

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I’m so exhausted. Found out today I have to have ANOTHER colonoscopy. Fabulous. (Don’t ask why, its a long story). Must be some kinda record for 23 yr olds. Needless to say, my creative juices are not flowing. But I just wanted to get this post out for Stephanie Bailey before I forgot to do it!

There are many types of artificial sweeteners out there on the market. These products may also be called sugar substitutes or noncaloric / non-nutritive sweetener. I know that some people claim they don’t use them, but really artificial sweeteners are in a lot of foods that you don’t even realize. For example, diet coke, light yogurt, and those sugar free or light coffee beverages all contain sugar subs.

First, we have the ever popular Splenda. The chemical/generic name of Splenda is sucralose. Sucralose is simply regular table sugar (sucrose) which has chlorine added to it. Sounds scary, right? Well, when I think of eating chlorine it kinda gives me the heeby geebys and I imagine drinking pool water. But actually, it turns out, small amounts of chlorine are not so bad for us and it’s in many common things that we eat all the time. So, the truth is that Splenda is made from REAL SUGAR, just as they advertise, but it has been chemically altered. My take on splenda is this; if you like using it, go for it! Personally, I think it tastes nasty. But that is just my opinion. Splenda does not have calories and it will not harm your health. Here’s an interesting tidbit: the reason that Splenda does not have calories is because when the chlorine is added, the molecule becomes too large for you to absorb and it simply passes through your GI tract. Pretty cool, right? hahahah, I may be the only person on the planet that thinks that’s cool… Anyway, has anyone ever tried baking with Splenda? They say that you can, but I’m a bit weary. But I would be willing to give it a try. Send me your recipes!

Next we have aspartame. There was a lot of hulabaloo about aspartame in the 90’s and how it gives you cancer. That myth came from a study that fed huge quantities of aspartame to mice. These mice ate only aspartame and nothing else for like a year.  And guess what?  Some of these mice did get cancer. There have never been studies proving that aspartame gives humans cancer, and let me tell you the FDA really does vigorously test products for safety. So again, aspartame is safe. Aspartame is also known as Equal. Aspartame is also found in diet drinks, diet jello, diet hot chocolate, diet anything really. If you like the taste of Aspartame go for it.

Lastly, are these new “natural” noncaloric sweeteners that are coming out such as Stevia. Stevia is also marketed as Truvia. This is a pretty cool product. It comes from the Stevia plant. I was pretty excited to try this stuff, but o sooo disappointed when I tried it. It does not taste like sugar. It leaves this awful taste in my mouth! BUT, we all have different taste buds and if you’re interested try it! Some people may like it. It is very very sweet, I think that may be why I don’t like it. Start off by using just a little bit and see how it goes. I did eat it on a strawberry one time, and it tasted just fine on that, but I usually don’t feel the need to put sugar on my strawberries.

In conclusion,  artificial sweeteners are safe, calorie free, and leave a bad taste in my mouth. The first parts are fact, the second part solely opinion. I think that they are definitely practical for people with diabetes or people with high blood glucose. They can also aid in weight loss. For example, I think that switching from regular coke to diet is a great move! Although, of course as a future dietitian I would have to advocate switching from coke to water or nonfat milk as the best move. But baby steps is best! Additionally, there are studies that show that people who use sugar substitutes do not weigh any less than their regular sugar using counterparts. However, this is more of a which came first the chicken or the egg dilemma. Are they fat because they are using sugar subs., or do they use sugar subs because they are fat? I will leave that for you to ponder. As for me, I will stick to small amounts of regular sugar and have my occasional diet 7 up.

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There is a lot of talk about sugar. Especially that high fructose corn syrup variety. But whats the truth? Is one better than the other? Is brown sugar nutritionally superior to white? How about sugar that comes from corn?  Will it make me fat, give me diabetes, brain cancer? Believe it or not, I have been asked one version or another of all of these questions at some point in time. In fact, a lady in my grocery store tour program didn’t ask if HFCS gives you brain cancer; she insisted that it did. FYI- I have no idea when the actual correct time to use a semicolon is, if this is improper please feel free to let me know.

I’m going to cover the simple basics of  four different types of sweeteners: white sugar, brown sugar, high  fructose corn syrup, and agave nectar. I realize that there are many more sweeteners and sugar varieties out there, practically anything ending in -ose on your food label is one form of sugar or another.

White Sugar versus Brown Sugar. There is a big misconception out there that brown sugar is better for you  because it is “more natural.” This is false. Brown sugar is simply white granulated sugar which has had molasses added back into it. White sugar or sucrose is made from sugar cane or beets. I’ve done a random poll of my family to determine where this myth was formed, and I just can’t get to the bottom of it. My dad believed the myth because thats what his mom told him.  My mom knew it wasn’t true (she’s so smart!) but thought perhaps the myth stemmed from the fact that other brown products like whole grains and whole wheat pasta which happen to be “brown” are healthier for us.

High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS. This is by far one of the most controversial products on the market right now. HFCS is literally in everything! But is it a problem? In terms of pure nutrition, calories, and percent carbohydrates it is identical to table sugar or sucrose. Yes, it is slightly higher in fructose, but you know where we can also find fructose. In fruit! So, the real problem is that HFCS is soo cheap (because it is made from corn, and corn is subsidized by our government). Due to its cheapness it is being found in more and more foods and the prices of these foods can be driven down because corn is cheap. The increase in HFCS has mirrored the increase in obesity as is demonstrated in the graph below. But it’s important to remember that correlation does not mean causation and there are several other environmental and genetic factors which come into play for obesity. Agave Nectar. Last but not least is agave nectar. it can be found at specialty foodstores like Traders Joes and Whole Foods. This is a fairly new product and many of you may not have even heard of it so I’m going to keep it short and sweet. Basically, this is just a new type of sweetener, not any healthier than sugar, but if you’re a foodie type person its fun to experiment with. However, I just want you to know your not doing your body a favor by using this over table sugar. Here’s an awesome article from the LA times about agave http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/30/health/he-nutrition30/

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