Sugar- A Consumer Awareness Article

I am always perplexed when I talk to people who say they put sugar on their grapefruit, dip their fresh strawberries in sugar, and add sugar to their cereal. We have lost touch with the true tastes of whole fresh foods.

Many Americans consume 2-3 pounds of sugar each week compared to the end of the 19th century, when the average American consumed only 5 pounds per year. Do the math and you will see that today the average American consumes an average of 104-156 pounds of sugar each year. (There are anywhere from 4 to 8 grams of sugar (carbs) per teaspoon of white sugar depending on the granularity of the sugar).

So what’s different today? If it’s canned, in a jar or processed it probably contains sugar. Sugar shows up in foods you would not think of, like salsa and tomato sauce, french fries, and soups. And it shows up in foods you would expect like catsup, grilling mixes, salad dressings, baked products, coating mixes, cereals, and snacks.

Many Americans rely on fast, convenient foods to eat for whatever reasons their busy schedules dictate. Why cook from scratch when you can open a can of sauce, or a bottle of marinade, or drive through on the way home for fast food.

Fancy coffee drinks, soft drinks, enhanced waters and juices, sweetened teas, even flavored milk have become the drinks of choice.

What about artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes?

In an effort to curb the amount of sugar that Americans consume, artificial sweeteners were created to give foods sweetness without calories and carbohydrates. Sugar has adverse effects, but artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols have their own bad side effects.

Animal studies at Perdue University showed that since the high calories which accompany sugar-laden foods were not present when artificial sweetners were substituted and consumed, the body reacted differently. Expecting the calories, the body would ramp up, but when the calories were not there, metabolism slowed, and more food was consumed to make up for the lack of calories.

Artificial sweeteners may start out with natural ingredients, but the structure of the sugar molecule can be altered. Sucralose (Splenda) bonds a chlorine atom to the sugar molecule, turning it into a whole different molecule. Stevia is a natural herb. Pure processed stevia comes in powdered, liquid and leaf form. Enter the new product Truvia.

What is Truvia?

According to the Truvia website, Truvia has three ingredients: rebiana, erythritol and natural flavors. Rebiana is a Cargill trade name to describe a particular extraction of the stevia plant. Erythritol is a fermented sugar alcohol Cargill also developed, which has been shown to have many negative side effects on individuals and rats in several tests. The Cargill website does not detail its process for making Truvia, nor does it elaborate on what constitutes “natural flavors.” according to the Regulatory Affairs unit of the Public Health and Medical Fraud Research Cooperative, “there is no evidence that Truvia is either natural or safe”.

What about Stevia in the Raw?

According to its maker:

Stevia In The Raw is a natural, zero–calorie*, sweetener, which consists of stevia extract and a bulking agent (dextrose or maltodextrin). The stevia is extracted naturally from the sweetest part of the stevia plant leaf (stevia rebaudiana Bertoni). It is then purified to create a sweetener that is 300 to 400 times sweeter than cane sugar. Because the stevia leaf extract is so pure and sweet, it requires blending with a bulking agent so that it can be conveniently measured, poured and used as a substitute for sugar or other caloric sweeteners.
In our Packet Product, the pure stevia leaf extract is blended with dextrose, a natural carbohydrate derived from corn, to produce the 100% natural, zero-calorie sweetener we call Stevia InThe Raw.

In our cup-for-cup Bakers Bag product, pure stevia leaf extract is co-dried with maltodextrin, a natural carbohydrate derived from corn, to produce a 100% natural, zero-calorie sweetener that matches the sweetness and measurement of sugar “cup for cup” for recipes.

Other natural sweeteners and sugars:

High Fructose Corn Syrup is not a natural sugar. It is derived from corn, which goes through a series of processes to extract a high fructose syrup.

Agave Nectar is a natural sweetener made from the agave plant. Pure agave nectar is sold as a liquid. Depending on the producer, it can be organic, “raw”, or refined.

Honey has been a natural sweetener since the beginning of time. Honey should not be given to infants under the age of 1 year. Honey can carry botulism spores. Adults build up an immunity to these spores.

Fructose is a natural fruit sugar which is sold in crystalline form. It is metabolized through a different pathway than other sugars by the body.

Maple syrup: This is the sap from sugar maple trees, which is collected and processed to produce a syrup. Pure maple syrup is very different from “Pancake” syrups on the market today.

The bottom line for consumers to consider

How refined is the product? What processes are used to refine the product? What side effects if any does the product have? How much of your total daily nutritional intake comes from added sugar or sugar substitutes?

Still not convinced? Read the article that presents 146 reasons why sugar is bad for you Why Sugar is Bad for You

Interested in how they make High Fructose Corn Syrup? Watch this You Tube video:

And one last look at just plain table sugar. You may want to think again before you want to eat all the added sugar: Table Sugar

Look for an upcoming challenge from FormulaZone about Sugar and You!

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2 Responses to Sugar- A Consumer Awareness Article

  1. Cale says:

    It’s interesting how much our sugar consumption has grown over the years. It seems as though we all have a tendency towards sweets. I’m looking forward to the sugar challenge, though!

  2. Sweets have been creeping into our diets subversively over the years. We don’t realize how many products add sugar to make you want more. My palate has been trained to enjoy the natural sweetness of whole foods intended to be sweet, like the perfect peach, or the juicy strawberry which I eagerly await when the season lets me visit U-pick farms.

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