SHOULD WE FEAR SUGAR? | By Hubert Cormier

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More and more fad diets suggest that people reduce their sugar intake, particularly refined sugar. But how bad is sugar, really? Should we be afraid of it? Here is some information to help alleviate your concerns about sugar.
Can you distinguish free sugars from all possible forms of carbohydrates? Free sugars are sugars that are not connected to dietary fibre. Dietary fibre has the ability to keep sugars “trapped” to slow their absorption into the body. Take orange juice, for example. When the juice and sugars are extracted from the fruit and all—or most—of the fibre is removed from the fruit, you end up with free sugars (regardless of whether the juice is freshly squeezed or not!). These sugars are then absorbed much more quickly by the body and, if consumed in excess, stored as fat.

One alternative I love to use to retain as much fibre as possible is to replace a juice drink with a smoothie rather than just drinking juice. But if you are a true juice enthusiast, I suggest you savour the juice to bring out all its flavours and aromas. Don’t just chug down large glasses of cheap, tasteless juice; instead, opt for smaller portions of delicious homemade juice to which you could even add vegetables with high water content, such as cucumber or celery.
Many foods rich in carbohydrates, such as fruit, vegetables and legumes, are great for you. It is not the sugar found in these foods that could be the cause of various illnesses, but rather excess sugar intake. However, processed products that are often high in sugar, fat and sodium and that contain many additives have been linked to the onset of several health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Rather than buying a muffin containing some 25 grams of added sugar from a fast food store, vending machine or convenience store, bake your own muffins and try to find strategies to control or substitute the amount of sugar to be used. One such strategy could be to replace sugar with fruit purees (mango, apple, banana, etc.) or to opt for honey or maple syrup used in smaller quantities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming between 25 and 50 grams of added sugars per day, which corresponds to 5–10% of the energy intake of a person consuming 2000 calories/day.
This corresponds to, for example:
- Pop: 27 g/250 ml
- Orange juice: 23 g/250 ml
- Strawberries: 8 g/250 ml


Maple syrup is better than white sugar:
MYTH! Just like white sugar, maple syrup is a free sugar! Free sugars have a high absorption capacity. When cooking, rather than trying to replace white sugar with an alternative that is healthier in your eyes, try to reduce the total amount of sugar used and choose the type of sugar you prefer. Personally, I almost always reduce the amount of sugar in recipes that seem quite sweet to me by 1/3.

Be careful, though! Sugar in recipes also has a functional role, and if you take all or too much of it out, you may not get the same mouth-watering result as in the pictures in your favourite cookbook. Sometimes the amount of sugar indicated for a recipe has been tested and determined necessary for the recipe by the creators! Sometimes it’s better to rely on the recipe and use your common sense!

Sugar makes children hyper:
MYTH! Sugar would not necessarily cause hyperactivity in children. Rather, it would be the context related to sugar consumption or the parents’ behaviour towards sugar. As a matter of fact, if parents tend to ban sugar for their children, impromptu consumption may lead to some form of excitement in children due to its prohibition.
In conclusion, sugar should not be feared if it is consumed in moderation. Simply enjoy it when you eat it and opt for relatively unprocessed foods to avoid excessive intake of added sugar.
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