Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweets for my Sweet

Sugar - also known as sucrose - is a simple carbohydrate. This means that it is quickly and easily broken down by digestion, ready for use as energy.

One teaspoon of sugar contains 16kcal/67kj, give or take a grain. So if you take one spoon of sugar in each cup of tea or coffee, and you drink 4-5 cups of tea or coffee in a day, that's 80kcal/336kj - about equivalent to a slice of wholemeal bread. At least the bread supplies nutrients - you won't find any of those in sugar.

It is very difficult to avoid sugar. Although we can wean ourselves off it in tea and coffee, its distinctive qualities make it very useful - and palatable - in commercial food production and preparation. Sugar absorbs and retains moisture easily, that's what keeps your bread and muffins fresh: it helps prevent the growth of moulds and bacteria in jams and marmalades: it helps retain the natural colour in fruits when they are canned.

It's in cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, ice cream, cordials, colas and alcohol. It's even in canned baked beans and tomato sauce!

And don't we just love it? Sugar is sweet, and saying the word 'sweet' makes us smile. Try saying it in front of the mirror; the corners of your mouth turn up, don't they? But too much sugar can cause overweight and tooth decay, just for starters, and neither of those makes anyone smile! It can also blunt the appetite for 'proper' food, and send susceptible kids bouncing off the walls.

How much is too much? This is an interesting question. I have literally dozens of books on healthy eating and weight loss. Not a single one of them gives a suggested daily portion size for sugar. And most of them avoid even mentioning sugar! It seems it is usually included in the fats and oils food group, and the suggested daily serving of fats and oils (and sugars) is a maximum of 6 teaspoons.

Rather satisfy your need for sweetness with a piece of fresh fruit.

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