Nothing is scarier on
Halloween than the amount of sugar kids eat
It’s late October. Here in the United States, we celebrate Halloween, a
2,500-year-old Irish tradition that has been hijacked in recent decades
by major food companies who sell us the holiday in brightly colored bags
of sugary sweets.
For those of us who want to live better, healthier lives, October is an
ideal time to learn more about sugar.
Why We Like (and Need) Sugar
Let’s face it: Sugar tastes good. Without sugar some foods would not be
Nature gave us a “sweet tooth” so we would be attracted to sweet and
healthful foods found in nature, such as fruit. In designing our bodies,
nature clearly didn’t anticipate the availability of huge quantities of
refined sugars. The body is not
of regulating the excessive amounts of glucose resulting from a high
Since the central nervous system needs glucose continuously to provide
energy for use by nervous tissue, and the brain needs it constantly as
its primary source of energy, the human body is designed to interfere
with blood sugar within limits only.
The brain needs a constant supply of glucose as its main fuel to
function properly, but that doesn’t mean added sugar is healthy. A
well-balanced diet provides an adequate glucose supply.
Different Kinds of Sugar
The mainstream media tend to refer to sugar in general terms and
overlook an important fact about sugar: That not all sugars are created
There are many types of sweeteners (sucrose, glucose or dextrose,
fructose, maltose, lactose and sugar alcohols sorbitol and xylitol)
depending on the source and varying from naturally occurring such as the
sugar in fruit to highly refined such as white table sugar.
Why Food Companies Are Addicted To Sugar
Everyone knows that soft drinks and other beverages are unnecessarily
loaded with huge quantities of sugar, often in the form of high-fructose
corn syrup. And, of course, pastries, candy bars, cookies, ice creams
and other sweets are loaded with sugar. But many consumers do not know that white
table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are common additives in breads,
cereals, sauces, dressings, canned fruit, specialty coffee drinks,
watered down “juices” and many other foods and beverages -- including
those advertised as “healthy.”
Why are convenience and manufactured foods loaded with sugar? Because
sugar acts as a stabilizer and preservative, tastes good and is cheap.
Manufacturers also know that the more sugar customers eat, the more they
crave it, and that's good for business.
What’s So Bad About Most Sugars?
It is estimated that the average American consumes an average of between
100 to 160 pounds of refined sugar per year. That estimate is even more shocking
when you consider that the human body was designed to consume exactly
zero pounds of refined sugar each year.
The World Health Organization recommends
that sugar consumption should not exceed 10% of a person’s total daily
calorie intake. That’s about 200 calories a day for a person consuming a
2000-calorie daily diet.
Studies show that high consumption of sugar plays a role in the
increasing development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity,
hyperactivity and tooth decay.
Ironically, eating too much sugar actually robs your body of sugar. The
over consumption of refined sugar and flour (simple carbohydrates) often
causes hypoglycemia, which causes blood sugar to fall below
normoglycemic levels. The result is hunger, loss of balance or
dizziness, rapid heart beat, weakness, anxiety and excessive sweating.
Hypoglycemia can lead not only to overeating and fatigue but also
obesity and diabetes.
High consumption of refined sugars can also cause learning disabilities
in children and adolescents and even violent or aggressive behavior in
adults, some experts believe.
Sugar also depletes the body of nutrients and can hinder performance if
eaten 30 to 60 minutes before an athletic event. Eating sugar right
before intense physical
will increase the glucose in your bloodstream giving you energy -- but
only for a short time. The insulin that your body releases in response
will lower your glucose level, leaving you with less energy than you had
to begin with.
Regular intake of refined sugars makes you more susceptible to bacterial
and viral infections and other ailments because sugar (sucrose) weakens the
immune system suppressing the protective functions of cells.
Aspartame and saccharin are just plain harmful, may even cause birth
defects or cancer over time if consumed too much. Another problem is
that these artificial sweeteners are not even effective for weight loss.
Americans are increasingly consuming many artificially sweetened foods
and diet soft drinks to cut calories, but people just keep getting
While eating too much sugar of any type is bad for you, white table
sugar, brown sugar (white sugar mixed with molasses) and high fructose
corn syrup have absolutely no redeeming qualities from a health point of
view -- they are truly empty calories devoid of any nutrients.
Raw or turbinado sugar, which many believe are healthier alternatives, are
basically just as bad due the purification process it undergoes.
Refined sugar has no nutritional value. Zero. The refining process of
sugar cane or sugar beets eliminates all vitamins and minerals. Refined
sugars are harmful for the digestive system and cause abnormal acid and
What To Do?
Remember: You don’t need to eat sugar to get the glucose your cells need.
Eliminating all refined sugars and artificial sweeteners from your diet
would be ideal. A well-balanced diet will not only provide
adequate amounts of glucose for the body to function properly but it
will also help regulate the sugar levels in your bloodstream.
Clearly, it's important to dramatically reduce the amount of sugar we
eat. And it's not as hard as it sounds. Just as we have become
accustomed to lots of over sweetened foods and beverages, we will grow
accustomed to smaller quantities of healthier foods that are less sweet.
We can also learn to use our sweet tooth for its original purpose:
However, choosing to eliminate refined sugar from your diet is
challenging. Sugar is everywhere in manufactured and restaurant foods.
You’re are bound to find sugar in inconspicuous food items, especially
if you eat out, buy fast, prepared, frozen and packaged foods and diet
or sugar-free foods and drinks.
Here's what to do:
1. Avoid all packaged food
that contains sugar as a major ingredient
2. Teach your body to live
without hardcore sweets, and to enjoy fruit and low-sugar foods.
3. Dramatically reduce to
the greatest extent possible the amount of sugar you use in cooking
4. Use healthier
alternatives to refined sugars.
In the next issue, I’ll talk
about sugar substitutes and healthier sugar alternatives, and give you a
healthy and delicious recipe for something normally loaded with sugar.
love to hear from you. Click here to send e-mail!
Q: Amira, I'm a new subscriber and I'm very much looking forward
to every issue. This one on oils interests me particularly. I have
recently heard that canola oil is not healthy for us, especially if used
for frying. What is your sense about this?
A: There is a lot of myth surrounding canola oil. Some believe
canola oil is rapeseed oil in disguise, and reject it because rapeseed
oil contains compounds that
can cause serious health problems. Rapeseed oil is made from
the seeds of rape plants. Canola oil comes from canola plants. Though
canola plants are the result of crossbred mustard rape plants, the
canola plants do not have harmful compounds found in rapeseed oil,
such as ericic acid (a fatty acid). Ericic acid is used industrially for
mechanical lubrication (not available in the U.S.).
Canola oil offers many health benefits. It is lower in saturated fat
than all other vegetable oils. It contains omega-3 fatty acids beneficial for lowering risk of
Canola oil has been tested extensively on both humans and animals by the
scientific community and has been found to be safe for human
consumption. Of course, any oil that is over consumed can be harmful
over time. Any oil can be mishandled and transformed into something
toxic if not cooked properly. The good news is that Canola oil has a
of between 340 degrees and 520 degrees (depending on the brand and
refinement and extraction processes), which is relatively high.
Contrary to popular belief, the original canola oil was not developed
through genetic modification as canola oil predates GMO technology by 20 years. Canola oil was developed in the 70’s
employing a hybridization process perfected many decades earlier.
Hybridization is a natural process in which plants are selected for
certain desired traits and bred to produce a new crop displaying
desirable characteristics more prevalently.
Not all canola oil is safe for consumption because the quality of any
oil depends on many factors, such as selection of seeds, method of
extraction and manufacturing process. The best canola oil is one that
is organically produced, has no added chemical preservatives and is expeller-pressed.
Avoid canola oil chemically extracted
with hexane. Hexane is a petroleum product, which is extremely harmful
to the environment and believed to leave residues in food produced with
Unfortunately, many plants in the U.S. have been genetically engineered
or altered and about 70% of all manufactured food (found at your local
supermarket) have been tainted with genetically modified organisms.
The canola oil market has not been spared from the use of genetically engineered
crops. Canola has
become one of the most genetically modified crops in North America. At
least 55% of all canola oil is being produced with GMOs.
Words of Wisdom
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some
blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a
spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Vegetarian Organic Recipe of the
Click on the picture for a closer look!
Asian Rice, Tofu and Veggies (vegan)
This dish is high in nutrients and can be prepared easily and quickly.
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Equipment: Food
processor or blender
Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 fresh garlic cloves
˝ medium onion peeled and cut in 4 pieces
3 cups cubed baked teriyaki flavor tofu (˝ inch cubes) (or fresh firm
˝ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups cooked brown rice (Basmati or long grain brown rice)
1 cup shredded green cabbage
2 cups fresh broccoli florets (or frozen)
1 large carrot, grated (1cup)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon white miso paste
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated (or 1/2
teaspoon ground ginger)
1. In a large pot heat oil over low heat. Meanwhile, process garlic and
onions in a food processor or blender until very finely chopped. Add
garlic and onion mixture to oil sautéing over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add tofu and red pepper flakes mixing well and sautéing for 5
minutes. Add rice and mix well. Add cabbage, broccoli, carrots, corn and
peas stirring well and sautéing for 5 minutes. In the meantime, in a cup
or small bowl, mix miso paste and soy sauce together dissolving
completely. Add miso and soy mixture and ginger to tofu and vegetables
stirring well and cooking over medium heat for 3 minutes. Serve.
About the ingredients:
- Miso, rich in B vitamins and protein, is a staple ingredient in
Japanese cuisine. It is a fermented soybean paste made by combining
cooked soybeans with koji (a mold, which is cultivated in a soybean,
barley or rice base) and salt. The basic categories of miso are barley,
rice and soybean. Miso is sold in a variety of flavors and colors, which
is determined by amount of soybeans, koji, salt used and length of time
it is aged (6 months to 3 years). The lighter color miso varieties are
sweet and mild and the darker colors have strong flavors. Though it may
be used in soups, dressings, sauces, dips, condiment, main dishes and
marinades, it should be used in moderation as it’s high in sodium. Miso
can be found in the refrigerated sections of Asian and natural health
food stores. Westbrae Natural is an excellent brand.
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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.
Copyright© 2003 - 2009 Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.