March 15 , 2011
Most of us consume great quantities of this simple carbohydrate without much of a thought. Sugar is in everything and often in large quantities. It is often the reason we can’t lose those last 5 (or 10) pounds. Highly refined sugars such as the well-known high fructose corn syrup are quickly metabolized by the body, creating a spike in blood sugar followed quickly by a crash and that sluggish feeling.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2008 Canadians consumed an estimated 23.1 kg. 23 kg (or about 50 lbs)!! There are roughly 1,550 calories in 1 pound of sugar so doing the math, Canadian eat approximately 77,500 calories of sugar a year. To put this in perspective, for a person eating 2,000 calories daily, this means that 10% of their total annual calories are from sugar. These are empty calories with no nutritional value for your body and there are many great natural alternatives to the highly refined version. Yes, these are still sweet but don’t come with the same downside. Some of my favourites are:
- stevia – a sweet tasting herb, no calories, which comes in a white powder, with a bit of an aftertaste that some can’t get over.
- maple syrup – one of my favourite things, this natural, unprocessed sweet has small amounts of beneficial minerals including calcium, potassium, sodium and copper.
- blackstrap molasses (unsulphured) – a byproduct of the process to refine sugar cane into table sugar, it contains calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, potassium as well as vitamin B6 and selenuim.
- agave syrup – made from the agave plant (also the plant used in making tequila) this syrup is about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. It has no vitamins or minerals but because it is sweeter than refined white sugar, you will need significantly less.
- brown rice syrup – is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals, but it does enter the bloodstream more slowly than white sugar .
Although there are many artificial sweeteners out there, these have no nutritional value and are all essentially chemicals designed to trick your taste buds into thinking you are eating something sweet. If you are “eating clean” or even just trying to avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners should not be a part of your diet.
As always though, everything in moderation.