Sugar is the new sodium, reviled for its evilness. It is contributing to the rise of everything from diabetes to Fatty Liver Disease, according to The Canadian Liver Foundation. The World Health Organization suggests that you reduce not only "added sugar" but also "naturally occurring sugar" to a maximum of six teaspoons per day (and it is hidden everywhere). There are even apps to help you decipher some of the obfuscating facts on food labels.
It is virtually impossible to tease out what is added sugar and what is naturally occurring just by reading the label. Sugars are grouped but some could come from fruit, dairy or other ingredients. Ideally, you want to read the ingredient list and look for words that end in "ose" which will be different sources of sugar. The list has to be ordered by the primary ingredients first, by weight. Some products will break up the sugars so that they don't look like they are the primary ingredients. If you see more than one "ose", dig deeper.
Sugars from natural sources are better nutritionally because they can be less processed and contain more trace minerals but they are still calorie dense ingredients.
The bottom line is that no matter what the source of sugar, what really matters is the good nutrients that comes with it. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down so make sure there is real food medicine in your choices.
The top three sources of sugar in the Canadian diet are: breads, beverages and snack foods. Here are my top picks in each category:
Bread: Dempster's Healthy Way, No fat, No sugar. It is a tasty whole grain, high fibre, high protein, under 100 calorie slice.
Beverage: Flavoured Sparkling Water like Nestle's Pure Life. Most of us don't drink enough water because it is boring. Many varieties of naturally flavoured sparkling water will deliver a bright refreshing taste and the hydration your body needs more of without any sugar or artificial sweetener.
Snack Foods: Qi'a Bars are the newest granola type bar to hit the shelves. Not only among the lowest in sugar but also high in superfood ingredients like hemp and chia. They are a delicious energy sustaining touch of sweetness with only six to nine grams of both sugars.
You can't be all good all the time but you do want to choose best in class especially when it comes to sugar content.
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