Finding the Culprit
Sugar has been undeniably linked to the growing number of health-stealing conditions in our society. With the daily intake rising to often 35 teaspoons a day, more than triple the recommended daily amount of 10-12 teaspoons, the need to reduce is becoming more and more urgent.
Shocked, you are now determined to cut sugar back in the lives of you and your family. But first you’ll have to find it. Sugar (in one form or another) is added to more food products than you can imagine. It has been taking on more and more clever aliases, hiding under many different names on food labels.
Food manufactures are cashing in on North American’s sugar addictions, adding it to everything possible; soups, sauces, canned, packaged and microwave foods, breads, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, deli meats, toothpaste and cough syrup - even those things that don’t taste sweet. Sugar has been added to hamburgers to reduce shrinkage and add juiciness, to breading in deep fried foods or to give frozen fish a nice sheen. Sugar is added to give flavour, texture, thickening and colouring and to act as a preservative.
An article in the May 2007, Times examined a can of tomato soup that contained on average 2.6g of sugar per 100g in 1978. Today’s soups have double that amount. A can of Campbell’s tomato soup now had 10.4g of sugar per 100g, with more than 4 spoonfuls of sugar in every bowl.
Among other companies exposed, Kellogg’s increase sugar content in some of its best-selling cereals. Cornflakes now have 8g of sugar per 100g compared with 7.4g in 1978; All-Bran has 17g compared with 15.4g in 1978, and Rice Krispies have 10g of sugar, up 1g since 1978.
Consumers have become more aware that, on food labels, the ingredients are listed in order from the largest amounts on down to the lowest. Manufacturers now list several types of sugars instead of one. This way, the sugars can be further down on the ingredient list, even though the total amount is quite high. I just pulled an oh-so-good-for-you “health” snack from my cupboard only to find that it lists sugar/glucose-fructose, brown sugar, barley malt, molasses and sugar (again!). That’s 5 different sugars snuck into one little bar. Do I ever wish I was paying more attention in the store that day!
Become a sugar super-sleuth. Dig out your magnifying glass and examine those labels before you bring them home. There are many types of “sugars” out there, with different names, differing slightly molecularly and functionally but basically the same. Be on the look out for anything ending in “ose”; sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose. Watch for syrups; maple syrup, carob syrup, rice syrup, malt and corn syrup, caramel or barley. As well, its important to know that natural sugars, such as honey, molasses, and juices, although having slight nutritional value are still sources of sugar. One of the greatest culprits in the rise in sugar consumption is high fructose corn syrup. Until the 1970s, most sugar was sucrose derived from sugar beets or sugar cane. But sugar from corn, high fructose corn syrup, is immensely more popular. HFCS has become liquid gold to manufacturers, being cheaper and easier to produce. It is nearly four times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and being in a liquid form, digests quickly entering the blood stream at lightning speed sending blood sugar levels through the roof.
A lead article of the April 2004 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated consumption of HFCS increased more than 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990, far exceeding changes in intake of any other food or food group. Interesting, as well, is the study that places soda consumption as the largest source of high fructose corn syrup in the United States and Canada and the damage it is having on our youth. In the past 10 years, soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled.
Teenage boys now drink, on average, three or more cans of soda per day, and 10 percent drink seven or more cans a day. The average for teenage girls is more than two cans a day, and 10 percent drink more than five cans a day. A study funded by the Milk Processor Education Program found that North Americans drink nearly a quarter of their total daily caloric intake and that more than a third of all the added sugars consumed come from soft drinks.
It’s my prayer that we will begin to look at our lives with sugar from a fresh perspective. Is it really friend or foe? Now that we are beginning to take personal responsibility for our health, half the battle is identifying who is on our side and who is not, and for those that are not, where the attack is coming from. Finding and removing the hidden sugars in your life will help protect you from a sneak attack.