There is escaping the fact that some of your favorite foods to munch on are packed with processed sugars. The fact that the human brain associates the taste of sweetness to a neurological response makes sugar even more addictive that it is intended to be. Whether it’s your morning cup of coffee or your favorite item on the dessert menu, sugar holds a dominant part of our diet, more than it should be allowed to.
Australia has a serious sugar problem
While the United States does take the prize when it comes to sugar addiction and a crippling obesity rate, Australia is giving it a run for its money with its own troubling statistics. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that an Australian on average consumes 60 grams of sugar every day, which blows past the guideline.
The ratio of sugar consumption is much higher among teens and young adults, while more than half of the Australian population exceeds the recommended daily intake, according to the World Health Organization. Making things even worse, most of this sugar diet comes from sweetened beverages and processed food products, which is packed with nearly empty calories that offer no nutritional value.
What are the different types of sugars?
White sugar – While the most common source of sugar around your household is the white powdery substance, which is commonly known as white sugar. This includes your caster sugar and icing sugar that is used for baking and cooking but essentially is similar to white sugar with 99.9% sucrose content. With all the “impurities” such as mineral ash and polyphenols removed during the processing stage, white sugar is essentially the most refined (and unhealthy) by-product of cane sugar and most common ingredient in most of the processed sweets and candies.
Brown sugar – You’d probably recognize brown sugar and the sticky and brown cousin of the regular sugar, which gets its color and texture from 95% sucrose and 5% molasses. Similar to demerara, rapadura, and black sugars, this type of sugar packs only traces of potassium, magnesium, calcium and other minerals. While technically the trace minerals make brown sugar a better alternative to its white counterpart, the nutrients are just not enough to justify it.
Fructose – Considered the natural sweetener in products such as honey and fruit juice, fructose is also available as a sweetener in the form of powder. While providing the same energy as regular sugar, fructose is sweeter and hence can be used in much smaller quantities to receive the same amount of sweetness. Scientific studies have also concluded that unlike regular sugar, fructose does not trigger hormones that regulate appetite, which lowers the chances of it being converted into fat.
Glucose – Considered the gold standard by which other carbohydrates are ranked, glucose is a sugar that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and stimulates a quicker insulin response. While glucose powder is not as sweet as processed white sugar, it is the right source for a quick energy boost, which makes it popular among athletes. Being the simplest form of sugar, it is absorbed directly to improve blood-glucose levels but offers no other vitamins or minerals in return.
Why is processed food the worse – The bottom line
There continues to be scientific debate over what form of sugar can be regarded as a “healthy sugar”, but the bottom line is that sugar can only be “least unhealthy”. Regardless of whether you have your sugar white, brown, or as an artificial sweetener, the amount of energy that a teaspoon offers is minuscule. Since processed foods such as pastries, cookies, chocolates and more are rich is sugars, they become the first line of attack against your metabolism.
Even the less-harmful sugars such as fructose and glucose when taken in large quantities can affect the metabolic function of the liver. Causing insulin resistance is one of the most common problems that sugars can cause which is a highway to diabetes and heart diseases. Since sugar releases a high amount of dopamine, it has been regarded as addictive as narcotics, which directly makes it an obesity promoter.
Since manufacturers of processed foods are competing to have their product off the shelves, they tend to be “too rewarding” in terms of calories. Since most tasteful ingredients come from foods with high carbohydrates and fats, this combined with the list of artificial ingredients that processed foods are packed with is a nasty combination.
Moreover, every form of processed food you can find is low of vital nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, or antioxidants. Mixed with the fact that most of your favorite snacks are soaked in processed vegetable oils and trans fats, consuming these food products takes a toll on your metabolism, especially your heart.
Don’t give up on food – just the processed ones
One of the main reasons why processed foods have become so popular is how easily you can get them. However, even your frozen meal of steak and fries that you fetched from the supermarket would be considerably healthier if you prepared it fresh.
Rather than replacing the excellent nutritional qualities of fresh meat and vegetables with processed junk, take the time out to prepare your meals and consider breakfast alternatives instead of that bakery muffins and bagels you chomp down on every morning.