We were told for years by the Heart Association to cut out fat from our diet. That fat was bad for us. How many times do you see packaging on food items in the super market claiming that it is “Low Fat or Fat Free.” What does this mean for our health and our waistlines? If you look closer at the ingredients in many of these products, what makes up for the fat is added sugar. So what do we do and how do we make healthier choices.
For decades we blamed fat for making us fat. It seemed to make sense. Just cut out the fat and we’ll get skinny. So manufacturers were touting Low fat foods but slipping in extra sugar The consequences have wreaked havoc on our health and our waistlines.
The fat versus sugar debate has intensified in recent times, with more nutritionists arguing it is not fat making us obese, but sugar, in an argument that threatens to turn the dietary world upside down. Indeed those who warn sugar is the enemy claim we should be eating full-fat products and ignoring ‘diet’ labels. Some go so far as to say that while even natural honey and high-sugar fruits such as bananas and watermelon are off the table, cream, cheese, nuts and butter can be piled on aplenty.
According to Dr Mehmet Oz. Too much sugar in your diet decreases nitric oxide levels, causing blood vessels to become narrow, which causes high blood pressure and an increased risk for cardiac disease. He claims it can also lead to higher levels of Bad cholesterol, leading to heart disease. Too much sugar spikes insulin which can affect the liver, lead to obesity or diabetes.
In a study in 2012. The average Australian consumed approx. 27 teaspoons (118grms) of total sugars a day (including natural sugars) The American Heart Association says that adult women should get 5 teaspoons (20 grms) of sugar per day, adult men 9 teaspoons (36 grms), and children 3 teaspoons (12 grms). To put that in perspective, a can of soft drink alone can have as many as 40 grams, or about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
The best way to cut added sugars out of your diet is to limit processed foods as much as possible, and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit. Hidden or added sugars in things like fruit-flavoured yogurt (19grms), low sodium pasta sauces (12grms) and granola bars (21.8grms) are very deceiving. While it’s important to avoid added sugars in processed foods, you should also limit the amount of sugar you add at the table. It’s worth mentioning that things like breads and crackers have hidden sugars in the form of refined carbohydrates. They have a high glycaemic index and can spike insulin and cause the body to store more fat.
There is also a need to examine the health risks linked to artificial sweeteners. They’re not always the healthier option. You may wish to look to natural spices and herbs to trick your tastebuds into thinking you’re eating something sinfully sweet. Try adding cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla or allspice to your coffee, cereals and baked goods. These natural alternative sweeteners may also do the trick: Honey, unlike white table sugar, honey is a complex food. One teaspoon contains 25 other compounds including proteins, amino acids and trace minerals. Stevia, a low-calorie sweetener that comes from a plant native to Paraguay and Brazil, stevia is 200 times sweeter than table sugar, so a little goes a long way.
Dr Oz says to never eat high-sugar foods by themselves. When not eaten with other substances like fat or protein, sugar consumption can cause blood sugar spikes. Pair sugars with nuts or some olive oil and bread first. This slows your stomach from emptying and will keep sugar levels stable.
So is sugar bad? If we eat lots of high-sugar foods (or drinks) that have little nutritional value it can make it much harder to stay healthy and be active. Sugar spikes your energy then depletes it just as quickly leaving us craving more sugar. It makes it very easy to consume extra kilojoules, which can lead to being overweight and this then sets the scene for other problems such as Type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
You be the judge. Maybe consider exchanging that coke for some spring water with a twist of lemon. Try dark chocolate in moderation or some berries that are loaded with anti-oxidants. Add some healthy fats to your diet like nuts or avocados when your craving a snack… As always be well and keep trying your best.
Contributed By Michelle “Mickie” Ball – Massage Therapist and Gokhale Method® Teacher Ph: 0428 223 271