Sugar, the Sweet Poison

I call sugar a sweet slow poison, a weapon of mass destruction. The difference is, we use it on our friends and families, not on our enemies.

It is reported that the North American diet contains about 20 per cent sugar. This is equivalent to 30 teaspoons a day! Most of it is hidden in pop, processed food and baked goods.

Like alcohol, sugar has no nutritional value. It has no vitamins, minerals or fiber.

North American children’s consumption of sugar per day is reported to be between 25 to 35 per cent of total calories. Is this too much? Yes. The World Health Organization recommends daily dietary sugar intake of no more than 10 per cent of total calories.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, sugar is any of numerous sweet, colorless, water-soluble compounds present in the sap of seed plants and the milk of mammals and making up the simplest group of carbohydrates. The most common sugar is sucrose, a crystalline tabletop and industrial sweetener used in foods and beverages.

Sucrose is found in almost all plants, but it occurs at concentrations high enough for economic recovery only in sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) and sugar beets (Beta vulgaris).

Sugarcane ranges from seven to 18 percent sugar by weight, while sugar beets are from eight to 22 percent sugar by weight.

Sugarcane, once harvested, cannot be stored because of sucrose decomposition. For this reason, cane sugar is generally produced in two stages, manufacture of raw sugar taking place in the cane-growing areas and refining into food products occurring in the sugar-consuming countries. Sugar beets, on the other hand, can be stored and are therefore generally processed in one stage into white sugar.

The Encyclopedia says that different methods of crystallization of sugar containing syrup are used to produce variety of sugars and at least six or seven stages of boiling are necessary before the molasses is exhausted.

The first three or four strikes are blended to make commercial white sugar. Special large-grain sugar (for bakery and confectionery) is boiled separately. Fine grains (sanding or fruit sugars) are usually made by sieving products of mixed grain size.

Powdered icing sugar, or confectioners’ sugar, results when white granulated sugar is finely ground, sieved, and mixed with small quantities of starch or calcium phosphate to keep it dry.

Brown sugars (light to dark) are either crystallized from a mixture of brown and yellow syrups (with caramel added for darkest color) or made by coating white crystals with brown-sugar syrup.

Beet sugar factories generally produce only white sugar from sugar beets. Brown sugars are made with the use of cane molasses as a mother liquor component or as a crystal coating.

Sugar is dangerous because it causes obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease leading to sickness and death. In the last few months, couple of articles in the Medical Post summarizes the dangers of sugar:

-people have to eat more of sugar containing food to feel satisfied (thus promoting obesity and diabetes) compared to those eating food with artificial sweetener

-sugar contributes to development of high blood pressure

-men who drink sugary drinks have 46 per cent increased risk of stroke, possibly because of sugar’s blood-thickening osmotic effect or its known ability to raise cholesterol levels

-diets high in refined sugar increase the risk of developing Crohn’s disease and colorectal and pancreatic cancer

-eating sugar increases body fat rather than lean body mass. It promotes obesity without any effect on muscle mass, i.e. there is no gain in useful tissue.

Sugar tastes nice and sweet but it is a killer. Sugar in the diet should be kept to a minimum, and if drinks and snacks are consumed, they should be sweetened with artificial sweetener or should be unsweetened.

Sugar is one temptation we should do without!

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