Sugar: Breaking Down the Facts

Andrea Falcone Nutrition Leave a Comment

You would have to be living under a rock to not know about all of the talk around sugar in our diets, removing processed sugars and how our food industry is saturated with so much excess sugar, and sometimes hidden in those foods that you had no clue about.

I love learning about new ways to make foods taste good, love seeing other recipes around and about. However, this also comes with a concern when I see something labeled as “sugar-free” which is NOT. I believe the world wide web is a great tool, but it may confuse you from time to time! So, as a heads up, and possibly great timing before you embark on your Christmas-cookie-baking-bonanza, I thought I’d put you “in the know” of where sugar is, what is more natural, and what would constitute “sugar-free”.   And please, by all means, this is not to say to not cook with sugar!! Just take a look at my latest Cranberry Pear Holiday crisp recipe for how I use a little bit of the sweet stuff!

As a start:

  • Organic sugar is no better than regular sugar
  • Organic anything for a matter of fact – if it says “cane sugar” – is it more natural? Possibly. BUT it’s still sugar! Calorie per calorie – very similar as table sugar, within a narrow range
  • Don’t believe me……. Here is some data from the Canadian Nutrient File
    • Sweets, sugar, brown – 1 tsp = 18 kcal
    • Sweets, sugar, fructose, liquid – 1 tsp = 14 kcal
    • Sweets, sugar, granulated – 1 tsp = 16 kcal
    • Sweets, sugar, icing (powdered) – 1 tsp = 10 kcal
    • Sweets, sugar, maple, hard – 1 tsp = 11 kcal
    • Sweets, syrups, table blends, corn, refiners syrup and sugar – 1 tsp = 21 kcal
    • Cane Sugar – 1 tsp = 12 kcal
    • Sweets, Honey, strained or extracted – 1 tsp = 22 kcal
    • Coconut Sugar – 1 tsp = 9 kcal
  • Natural sugars come from fruits such as unsweetened applesauce, dates, prunes, apricots, fresh berries, pears, etc
  • Dried cranberries are loaded with added sugar
  • Something is NOT sugar-free if it’s made with maple syrup or honey – again, more natural source – yes, but it’s still sugar

We all see the labels on food packages too, and before we put that package down once we see the grams of sugar per serving, let me explain something to you about that “Sugar content”. If there is some natural fruit in the product (apples, pears, berries, etc), this will be included in the total amount of sugars, along with the added sugars. Have a read here when I dove deeper into package labels to explain them all to you. Have a look at the ingredients list if you are truly trying to be mindful of the amount, and look for names of sugar that are added to the product. Words often ending in –ose are your key lookouts, but can also be words such as:

  • Barley malt
  • Cane crystals
  • Caramel
  • Turbinado
  • Dextrin
  • Malt Sugar
  • Treacle

….to name a few.

And please, if it’s your aunt’s most decadent cookies she only makes during the holidays – eat the damn cookie! Food is supposed to be pleasurable, not denied or evil.

Before you go believing all of the nonsense of the “sugar-free” craze that is STILL made with a source of sugar, please be mindful about the type of information you take from that recipe or blog with a grain of – sugar ;) Happy Baking!

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