The Problem With Refined Sugars
Sweets will rot your teeth and make you fat. True? Maybe in part, however more likely an over-exagerated sweeping statement. When it comes to sweets moderation is the key. But what is moderation? Obviously moderation is not the general rule, or we would not be experiencing the hike in diabetes.
Let's explore some of the real issues with refined white sugar
I rarely get to watch television, so I was happy to find myself in front TV watching a food show recently. The week’s topic was Sweets. It always surprises me to see refined sugar and all its products exalted as fun, exciting even, and (while a bit ‘naughty’) a normal part of our diet. The host mentioned that in New Zealand we eat tonnes of it.
Yes we New Zealanders do and so do Australians and Americans. We’re seeing ever-increasing problems due to obesity, including diabetes and heart disease. Over-consumption of sugar, especially in its refined forms, causes imbalance in body metabolism which can lead to serious illness in the long term. One aspect of this imbalance is that refined sugar lacks the minerals, vitamins and other co-factors necessary for its use as an energy source. So the body is forced to store it as fat!
The TV show presenter visited the Chelsea sugar refinery in Auckland. She saw mountains of raw, unrefined sugar unloaded from a ship onto a long conveyor in the factory. She ran her fingers through the unrefined sugar and asked “Could we eat this as it is?” to the gentleman guiding her around the factory. He replied that it was unhygienic in that form, that it may have bits of fibre and dust in it. The TV host seemed happy with that and they cheerfully headed off down the processing line.
The guide then showed us where the sugar was dissolved, filtered and then refined through various processes to produce a clear sugar syrup. This syrup is allowed to cool and crystalise into pure white sugar. Some of the black syrup ‘waste’ is added back to the clear syrup to create other products such as ‘Golden Syrup’, molasses, brown sugar and raw sugar.
What gets removed from the pure cane sugar is minerals, vitamins and all the other complex goodies present in fresh wholefoods. Isn’t it amazing that we humans go to so much effort to produce something which is, quite literally, killing us?
I don’t believe that sugar is the most damaging thing we can eat. What is possibly worse? – BAD FATS (like Trans-fats and processed fats)! However sugar is easily over-eaten. Because sugar is such an imbalanced food our natural sense of moderation is perverted and we simply crave MORE. And even though we know it’s not good, we encourage each other to indulge in it at any occasion. We treat sweets as fun, good-time food.
The fact is that those sweet good times contribute to habits which in the long run become seriously ill times.
What to use instead of white sugar?
We sometimes use a little unrefined cane sugar or honey in our sweet and baking recipes. These are still ingredients which should be used in moderation, but are far superior alternatives to refined sugar. Unrefined cane sugar (cane juice) may be marketed under the brand names ‘Shakkar’ and also ‘Rapadura’. .