Food

Health Benefits of Sugar

The sugar is the name generally attributed to edible carbohydrate. It is a sweet product with a pleasant taste. The most common sugars are sucrose, glucose, lactose and fructose. The main characteristic of this food group is the sweet taste.

Usually, when referring to the word sugar, we are considering only sucrose, excluding other types of sugar such as glucose, lactose and fructose. Normally, in cooking, polyol-type sugars are not taken into account, only monosaccharides and disaccharides are counted as sugars.

The most consumed sugar product in the world is refined white sugar. It is cheaper than other types of sugar and its consumption is greatly encouraged by the food industry. Due to its low value, it is widely used in the production of ice cream, cakes, breads, pies, cookies and jams.

Sugar is a product of Indian origin. This product began to circulate outside India at the time of the Macedonian Emperor Alexander the Great, when a general was put in charge of exploring East India. Arriving in the region, he observed that the natives had the custom of consuming fermented cane juice. This juice looked like a kind of honey, but it didn’t need bees for its production. Foreigners started calling that drink Indian salt.

As it was a foreign product, it had a very high value and, therefore, it was little consumed, being used only to preserve food and to produce medicines. In the mid-seventh century, this juice began to take the form we know today. Around 650, it was discovered a way to transport this sugar more easily, through its refinement.

The Arabs took the seedlings to other regions and, later, with the crusades, the seedlings spread throughout Europe. With the great navigations, this plant spread around the world, adapting itself very well to the climate of Brazil.

TYPES OF SUGAR

Although we always report the word sugar to white and refined sugar, there are other forms of sugar such as glucose, ribose, fructose, lactose, maltose, suclose and melitose that are found in the most diverse types of foods.

BENEFITS OF SUGAR

Despite being very crucified, sugar also has benefits if used in a moderate way. Sugar, in general (fructose, sucrose…), is very important for life. It is through him that we obtain energy to carry out daily activities. When blood sugar levels are too low (hypoglycemia), we experience headaches, dizziness, fainting, tiredness and sleepiness.

The problem lies in its excessive consumption, which leads to numerous health problems, especially when taking into account the type of sugar. We will talk about this topic later.

One of the properties of sugar is its power to assist in the proliferation of bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus sp . which are very important for a healthy intestinal flora, eliminating harmful bacteria such as Escherichiacoli and Clostridium . Sugar is also rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, chlorine, potassium, sodium, magnesium and B-complex vitamins.

However, as mentioned earlier, white sugar is not very healthy. It is low in minerals and vitamins. The ideal way to stay healthy is to consume sugar from sources other than white, such as fruits, milk and tubers.

SUGAR NUTRIENTS

Sugar in its refined form is poor in nutrients. After all the sugar has been processed to make it white, the nutrients, as well as its color, go away. Each 100g of this product has 386 kcal, being 99.5g of carbohydrates; 0.3g protein; 3.5mg of calcium; 0.6mg of magnesium; 0.1mg of iron; 6.4mg of potassium and 12.2mg of sodium.

However, its raw form (without the refinement process) has more nutrients. For every 100g of brown sugar there are 377 kcal, 94g of which is carbohydrate; 0.8 protein; 0.1g of lipids; 126.5mg of calcium; 2mg of manganese; 80mg of magnesium; 38.2mg of phosphorus and 521.6mg of potassium. It also has sodium, copper and zinc.

SUGAR HARM

Many studies have been conducted over the last 20 years on sugar. Several of these have been vehemently condemning the consumption of white sugar for causing numerous harms to the body. These studies focused on the consumption of white sugar, disregarding those from fruit or milk.

As already mentioned, this product does not have significant amounts of nutrients and receives many chemical additives during the industrialization process that are harmful to the body.

According to specialists, refined sugar can be compared to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, as its consumption causes as many harms as these. Studies show that substantial psychiatric illnesses, cardiovascular disorders and body aches are closely related to the consumption of this powder.

In addition to these problems, research shows that sugar acts as a decalcifying and demineralizing of bones and teeth, causing diseases such as osteoporosis, tooth decay and growth problems.

Furthermore, it also devitaminizes the body and slows down the metabolism, being one of the causes of glandular disorders, eye diseases, chronic diarrhea, high blood pressure, infections, asthma, bronchitis, leukemia, neurovegetative dystonias and skin problems. It is also the main cause of diabetes.

As sugar glucose is quickly released into the blood, if not used up quickly by the body through physical activity. It ends up being stored by the body in the form of fat, being the biggest cause of obesity in the world.

Below we leave a list of harms associated with sugar:

  • Increases cholesterol levels;
  • Aggravates gastritis;
  • Causes constipation;
  • Generates an increase in bad cholesterol;
  • Produces fat in the liver;
  • Promotes high blood pressure;
  • Decreases memory;
  • Aggravates cases of gout;
  • Causes myopia;
  • Generates thrombosis;
  • Decreases income at work;
  • It gives rise to acne.

Sugar also has addictive properties, its users having withdrawal crises with nausea, weakness, dizziness and tremors. This small and harmless molecule is so addictive because it stimulates the production of a hormone linked to the sensation of well-being and pleasure, making the body always look for this substance to feel happy. Thus, it can be seen that sugar is bad for your health.

FOODS RICH IN SUGAR

The most common foods rich in sugar are cakes, puddings, sweets, sweet breads, soft drinks, juices, chocolates, cookies, ice cream, condensed milk and jellies. Although they can be made without sugar, they are usually made with this ingredient.

HOW TO SWEETEN WITHOUT SUGAR

Currently, there are several substitutes for white sugar. The most common and natural are stevia, xylitol, erythritol, matitol and thaumatin. There are also artificial sweeteners, but they are not very healthy either. They are aspartame, sodium cyclamate, saccharin and sucralose.

Although there are substitutes, the ideal is to consume the products without any type of sweetener.

SUGAR CONSUMPTION RECOMMENDATION

There is no daily recommendation for white sugar consumption. Its ingestion should be avoided as much as possible, after all, the body does not need this product. Although there is no recommendation for consumption, experts indicate that it is not recommended to exceed the amount of 25 g of sugar per day, that is, a full tablespoon. If, even so, you decide to consume sugar, opt for healthier versions such as brown or honey.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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