• September 15, 2019

STONE: Sugar a sneaky ingredient in foods - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Sugar a sneaky ingredient in foods

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Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2019 5:45 am

Who doesn’t love a fresh, hot donut? From your basic glazed, to the high end, fancy, crème or jelly filled varieties; these sinfully scrumptious edibles are a common breakfast accompaniment to a perfect cup of coffee. While these delectable morsels help satisfy comfort food cravings, they are among many foods we should cherish as an occasional treat rather than a staple in our every day diet.

From a nutritional perspective, outside the realm of sensible moderation, donuts offer little more than a gateway to diabetes and heart disease. Using it as an example, the evil, yet delicious donut reveals an underlying issue plaguing our health.

Your standard, glazed donut runs approximately 200-300 calories, contains about 10-15 grams of fat and hovers around 20-30 grams of carbohydrates. Add the likes of crème and jelly fillings, frosting, or mountains of colorful sprinkles and the numbers continue to climb from there. Depending on the make and model of your donut, this calculates, give or take, to a composition of 47% fat, 48% carbs, and 5% protein. To put that in a visual perspective to the equivalency of what you consume with each donut, place a tablespoon of shortening and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the palm of your hand.  That’s quite a bit of fat and sugar being put into the body in as little as 3 to 4 bites.

However, while fats were long considered the primary enemy responsible for expanding waistlines and poor health, the truth is our bodies rely on a certain amount of fat to function at optimal levels. Adhering to a strict “fat-free” diet is no longer encouraged or advised, but rather consuming fats in moderation and choosing those with beneficial qualities is certainly a must. Not all fats are created equal, the difference coming in the forms of healthier unsaturated fats versus their unhealthier counterparts in the form of saturated fats. Unsaturated, either in the form of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, are high in omega-3 and omega-6 which help blood cholesterol levels, hold anti-inflammatory properties, and are better for cardiac health.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that unsaturated fats tend to remain in liquid form at room temperature, or might even be cloudy if refrigerated. Examples of unsaturated fats include oils such as olive, canola, corn, and soybean. On the opposite end of the oil spectrum are saturated fats, which as you may have already concluded, tend to remain solid at room temperature. Saturated fats include butter, vegetable shortening, and lard, all of which can raise bad cholesterol levels in the blood. While it’s inevitable most of us eat saturated fats on any given day, the American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to 13 grams per day. For a standard 2,000 calorie per day diet, this is approximately no more than 120 calories or about 5% to 6% of your total daily caloric intake.

The greater threat to our waistlines and health is overconsumption of sugar, much of which is added unexpectedly into our diets. Unlike fats being different from one another, sugar is sugar. Regardless if it comes from corn syrup, sugar cane, or fruits it doesn’t matter. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between high fructose corn syrup and regular table sugar, as they both contain fructose and glucose and processed the same. Drinking several servings of fruit juice is, in many ways, no different than downing sugary sodas. Think that salty snack is a better choice because it isn’t riddled with sugar, think again. I challenge you to look at the ingredients of any pre-packaged food or snack item in your homes and offices. This includes all of salty snacks and prepared meals as well. Look at the ingredients and I’ll bet almost every one of them, if not all, will have some form of sugar listed on the label. While sugar is often listed, it may also be found under less obvious names such as “agave syrup”, “fruit juice concentrates”, “cane juice”, and “rice syrup” to name a few. Regardless what you call it though, sugar will and always be…sugar. It’s everywhere, read labels to do a better job of avoiding it.

So, how do we reduce the excessive amount of sugar in our lives? The first step is to inventory our diets and begin with a few simple changes to significantly reduce the amount of added sugar finding its way into our foods. The single most important step is to stick to unsweetened beverages, particularly water. Hence the words “unsweetened”…artificially sweetened beverages are a whole other topic for discussion, but should not be an acceptable substitute for drinking plenty of water. Another key step is to make the majority of your own meals, using ingredients you know to be healthy and free of the stuff that isn’t necessary…like added sugar. Lean protein and healthy fats are just as important as the fresh vegetables and complex carbohydrates needed to complete a meal. It’s time to put the donut down and feed our bodies what it truly needs, real food and less sugar.

Odessa, TX

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