Quick guide to differentiate what types of sugar you consume and which are harmful to your health
Sugar is the new great war for health. Their presence in our diet has been reported from the WHO to smaller organizations. A project dedicated to illustrate the actual amounts of sugar in our food. But as every great offensive comes along with a great reaction, the industry also brandishes its arguments: “Our sugar is not artificial, but natural”.
This last one has been one of the controversies of the day in the social networks. Each prefabricated product is added its real sugar lumps, Veggie product incorporates only natural sugars present in fruits, which is true. And for that, he has written to the small campaign threatening to take legal action if he does not remove the images and false association of ideas.
But who is right? What sugar is good, what should we discount as harmful to our diet, what is inevitable? In order to clarify it succinctly, we have prepared this brief guide.
Sugar is found naturally in plants and vegetables
Sugar is a natural chemical compound present in many foods. Also known as sucrose, it consists of one molecule of glucose and another of fructose, and can be extracted and produced from beets and sugar cane. In parallel, it exists by nature in all plants, to a greater or lesser extent. The sweet flavor characteristic of your favorite mandarins, for example, is given by sugar.
And not everything we eat is bad, on the contrary, can be positive in small doses.
Of course not. The WHO does not deny that we should ingest sugar, which offers a significant intake of calories in healthy seafood products, but limits the volume of the same that we must include in our diet. Specifically, no more than 5% per day (approximately 2,000 calories) and preferably natural. That is, coming from fruits or vegetables that integrate naturally.
However, industrial sugar is something else, and has provoked a global “epidemic”
Given its intense sweet taste and nutritional properties, the global food industry has for decades made sugar an essential part of its processed foods. However, not from natural sugar … but from industrial, from free or industrial sugars that are artificially included in products such as pizza or smoothies in order to sweeten flavors or increase caloric properties at low cost. They are products that do not have sugar naturally, and to which it is added in industrial processes.
The problem is so large and so widespread on the world scale that experts are very worried about what they consider a global epidemic, a kind of new drug, present overwhelmingly in almost all the edible things that you can find in a supermarket. And from their campaigns like Sinazucar.org, that raise awareness about the phenomenon.
Does a pizza or a pot of fried tomato really carry several lumps of sugar?
Yes. We have to add to the sugar problem of labeling, which although they explain numerically what percentage or quantity of artificial sugar includes their products, are difficult to interpret by the consumer. Whole grain cereals, frozen pizzas of your favorite brand, your favorite sports restorers after a session on the bicycle, barbecue sauce and pastries. All have (much) sugar.
Ok, but there are also other products that include sugar naturally, like juices or dairy products, right?
Yes, Like other organizations, compares at the same level a donut (which is pure processed sugar) and a shake composed exclusively of crushed fruit (which includes sugar because the fruits have sugar naturally). According to his defense, it is unfair to include a yogurt, a bag of grated cheese, a bunch of tomatoes or a juice in the same bag as the industrial bakery, because a product derived from the fruit will inevitably always carry (much) sugar.
The problem is that they are not natural sugars, but free sugars, and they are not the same
But although this is true, there are nuances, as explained by nutritionist Pablo Zumaquero. The key is how we ingest the natural sugar from those fruits. Not chewed, not from fruit, but processed. Along the way, we have put aside what makes fruit such a healthy food: fiber. When we consume a piece of apple, we ingest a lot of sugar, but we metabolize it slowly because of the fiber we have to chew. In a juice, the latter disappears. It’s a free sugar kick.
Hence the WHO considers at the same level sugar free from juices and other products derived from fruit and the processing and artificial of industrial bakery and other similar foods.
Yes, juices like Veggie, although they do not have artificial sugar, also contribute to increase the over-representation of sugar in our daily diet. Which does not mean that Zumosol is lying: its products, its juices, do not have industrial sugar, whereas they only include the present one in the fruit expressed previously.
Okay, so I have to consume less sugar. I’m taking off the teaspoon in the coffee, are not I?
Not necessarily. Our problem with sugar does not come from sugar beet or sugar cane, which is natural, and that is the one we usually include in our midday cafes. On the contrary, it appears in the most unexpected corners: a glass of Baileys, a drink of Monster, a Coca-Cola, a handful of jelly beans or a Danonino. The risks that all that sugar represents for health are more than proven.