EAT­ING WELL

Food and Travel (Singapore) - - Contents -

Elim­i­nate re­fined sugar from your diet with­out com­pris­ing on flavour with these sugar sub­sti­tutes

Elim­i­nate re­fined sugar from your diet with­out com­pris­ing on flavour with these sugar sub­sti­tutes

There are many rea­sons why peo­ple love re­fined sugar – it sweet­ens your morn­ing cof­fee and glams up your rou­tine but­tered toast. But as much as re­fined sugar is tasty, it has a pretty bad rep­u­ta­tion for all the neg­a­tive ef­fects it can have on your health. The scary truth is that sugar causes a wide range of prob­lems such as tooth de­cay, di­a­betes and obe­sity. Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have also shown that a sugar laden diet in­creases the risk of en­coun­ter­ing1 se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tions such as can­cer, hy­per­ten­sion and heart disease.

Com­ment­ing on the neg­a­tive ef­fects of re­fined sugar on the body, Ms Pang Shu Ying, di­eti­cian from Keen Life­style says, “Ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of sug­ars have been linked to sev­eral meta­bolic ab­nor­mal­i­ties and ad­verse health con­di­tions ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion (AHA). Though the meta­bolic mech­a­nisms are un­clear, sugar con­sump­tion ap­pears to be as­so­ci­ated with in­creased triglyc­erides lev­els, which is a known risk fac­tor for heart dis­eases. AHA also re­ported that over con­sump­tion of high-sugar drinks and foods is as­so­ci­ated with in­creased in­flam­ma­tion and ox­ida­tive stress lev­els.

On­col­ogy Nutrition also sug­gested that a diet loaded with sim­ple car­bo­hy­drates such as sugar may in­crease can­cer risk, par­tic­u­larly in in­di­vid­u­als who are over­weight and/or those who have an in­ac­tive life­style. It is also linked to in­creased risk of di­ges­tive and hor­mon­ally re­lated can­cers: col­orec­tal, liver, pan­cre­atic, breast, en­dome­trial and ovar­ian.

The la­tent neg­a­tive health ef­fects re­lated to sugar con­sump­tion has been a con­cern of both con­sumers and health ex­perts for decades, and many in the health­care com­mu­nity claim that sugar is toxic and can be linked to obe­sity.

At the Open­ing Cer­e­mony of World Di­a­betes Day 2015, Dr. Amy Khor, Se­nior Min­is­ter of State for Health, also men­tioned that 60% of Sin­ga­pore­ans con­sume two or more sweet­ened drinks a day. For these in­di­vid­u­als, sweet­ened drinks are a source of empty calo­ries sup­ply­ing about 200 calo­ries per day or 10% of daily di­etary energy al­lowance.

The Health Pro­mo­tion Board have ad­vised that added sugar in­take lev­els for adults should con­trib­ute no more than 10% of daily di­etary energy al­lowance. This trans­lates to ap­prox­i­mately 40 to 55g (8 to 11 tea­spoons) daily, de­pend­ing on your daily energy re­quire­ment. These lim­its ap­ply to sugar added in your food or drinks dur­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, cook­ing or at the ta­ble.”

Although the daily limit may seem like a rea­son­able es­ti­mate, when you ac­tu­ally break­down the ac­tual sugar con­tent in the food and drink you con­sume on a daily ba­sis, such as whole­meal bread which con­tains 6g of sugar in ev­ery 100g, 9 g of sugar in 100ml of Coke, and 10g of sugar in ev­ery 100g of ap­ples.

While it isn’t pos­si­ble to com­pletely re­move sugar from your diet, one can start by slowly re­duc­ing their sugar in­take to main­tain a bal­anced and healthy diet. Ex­plor­ing sugar sub­sti­tutes is a vi­able op­tion – some have added ben­e­fits like be­ing calo­rie free or not caus­ing tooth de­cay. These sub­sti­tutes will al­low you to en­joy the same sweet­ness of your food and bev­er­ages with­out the neg­a­tive ef­fects of over­con­sum­ing sugar.

Shar­ing her thoughts on al­ter­na­tives to sugar, Pang says, “Sugar sub­sti­tutes can be cat­e­gorised into two groups: ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers and sugar al­co­hols. The for­mer in­clude as­par­tame, sac­cha­rin, ace­sul­fame potas­sium, su­cralose and neo­tame. These prod­ucts con­tain no calo­ries, higher sweet­ness level as com­pared to nutri­tive sug­ars, and elicit neg­li­gi­ble glycemic re­sponse, which make them at­trac­tive to those who want to con­trol their calo­ries in­take and those with di­a­betes.

Sugar al­co­hols, on the other hand, com­prise sor­bitol, man­ni­tol and xyl­i­tol. These re­duced calo­rie sweet­en­ers are less energy dense than nat­u­ral sources of sugar due to their me­tab­o­lism me­chan­ics.

There are sev­eral ben­e­fits to us­ing sugar sub­sti­tutes. They can be ex­tremely use­ful for weight man­age­ment to cut down calo­rie in­take and min­imise the meta­bolic ef­fects to blood glu­cose lev­els that oc­cur with the con­sump­tion of nutri­tive sug­ars.”

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