If you knew that sugar, especially refined sugar, is now believed by researchers from America’s top universities to cause a plethora of ailments and diseases, even in regular amounts, would you still use it? Refining sugar takes all of the nutrients out of natural, plant based sugar sources until a pure, but not natural, nearly 100% sucrose product is left over.
Having refined sugar be such a large part of our diets harms us in ways that scientists are just beginning to understand. In this article, we will explore the process by which refined sugar is made and why it is worse than natural sources of sugar in your diet. At the same time, we will give you some tips to help avoid the menace of our generation: refined sugar.
The Refining Process
Sugar is naturally found, in varying degrees, in all of our favorite fruits and vegetables. (That’s probably what makes them our favorites!) Two crops you probably aren’t buying at the grocery store are sugar cane and sugar beets. From these two, high-sugar vegetables, though, nearly all of the table sugar, brown sugar, and confectioner’s sugar is refined.
The refining process essentially cooks off the starches and nutrients from the juice and pulp in stages. So-called “raw sugar” is 95% sucrose alone, having had the majority of its nutrients stripped away. Further cooking down, filtration, and bleaching of the product takes even more of the nutrients away, resulting in a 99.5% sucrose end product we know as refined, or table sugar.
You don’t have to be a nutrition expert to know that having too many sweets in your diet is no-no. What most people don’t realize, though, is that sugar has no nutritional value, regardless of whether it is naturally occurring in the foods you eat. In fact, the contrary is true. Researchers have come to realize that sugar is a toxin, and as such, can have detrimental effects on your health in the typical amounts consumed. Heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke are just a few of the issues that having too much sucrose in your diet can cause.
Ways to avoid refined sugar:
- Forget “Raw” and “Pure”, Go Natural! As you now know, labels like “raw” and “pure” make toxic amounts of sucrose somehow seem wholesome. Genuinely good sources of sweetness in your food come from naturally sweet ingredients like fruits, and even some vegetables, like carrots and peppers.
This carrot cake pudding is a fun example of the natural sweetness of carrots.
- Cut the Sugar. A lot of the dishes you are probably used to preparing use sugar to change the flavor of the main ingredient. Next time you make butternut squash or strawberry shortcake, try it without adding sugar. The naturally beautiful flavor of the fruit or vegetable may surprise you.
You won’t believe this sweet treat doesn’t need sugar at all!
- Avoid the Package. Choosing healthy ingredients and cutting sugar from your recipes is only half the battle; you should be sure to avoid sugary processed foods as well. While some foods’ added sugar may be obvious, like sugary cereals or packaged deserts, it will probably surprise you to know how much sugar is added in everything from salad dressings to microwave popcorn.
Try this recipe for the perfect homemade potato chip that uses no sugar, unlike your favorite from-the-bag version.