Monday, April 11, 2016

"Reading Up on Sugar Yields Sweet Science at Library" | @ the Library Article

As the year continues, the resolutions made in January start to slip away.  However, keeping track of the amount of sugar in your diet can be crucial to achieving and maintaining good health.  Resources at your Abilene Public Library may help you to do just that.

One thing to begin with is to read food package labels.  Look for sugar, of course, but also for honey, syrup, concentrated fruit juice or dehydrated cane juice.  All of these are sugars whether they're organic and "healthy" or not.  Anything with sugar, syrup or sweetener as part of the name will be a sugar.  Cane is a key word too.  Cane sugar, cane crystals, evaporated cane juice - all sugars.  There are others, like honey, that don't actually say sugar in the name.  A few of these are Agave nectar, dextrin, maltodextrin, molasses, sorghum and treacle.  J.J. Virgin's Sugar Impact Diet: Drop 7 Hidden Sugars, Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks by J.J. Virgin explains how to look for sugars that we eat without even realizing it.

Then, there are all those items that end with "ose."  That particular suffix generally means sugar, too.  Enough different sugars on the label could make sugar the first ingredient if they were all lumped together.  Since each sugar is listed separately, they may appear much further down the label and give the impression that there isn't that much sugar in the product.  The Sugar Trap and How to Avoid It by Beatrice Hunter provides a guide on using less sugar.

Some foods have naturally occurring sugars in them.  One such is fructose in fruit.  Another is lactose in milk.  There's that "ose" again.  Generally, fresh fruit doesn't come with a label listing ingredients, but milk does come with a nutrition label that will list the amount of sugar in the milk.  Also, don't think that lactose free milk is sugar free.  The lactose has simply been converted to a couple of simple sugars through the use of enzyme lactase.

Speaking of sugar free, many sugar free products use sugar alcohols as the sweetener.  The most commonly used are maltitol, sorbitol, isomalt, and xylitol.  Watch for the "itol" suffix on labels.  Sugar alcohols, a type of carbohydrate, absorb only partially.  This makes their impact less on blood sugar and they provide fewer calories.  They don't promote tooth decay and xylitol inhibits bacterial growth so it's frequently used in sugar free chewing gum.

Unfortunately, because sugar alcohols don't completely absorb, they can sit and ferment in the intestines causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea.  Different people react differently so careful use and experimentation is advised.  Moderation in its use is the best idea.  Prevention's the Sugar Solution: Your Symptoms are Real - and Your Solution is Here by the editors of Prevention magazine with Ann Fittante provides information on blood sugar and a sugar free diet.

These titles and others such as Get the Sugar Out: 501 Ways to Cut the Sugar in Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman or Little Sugar Addicts: End the Mood Swings, Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Low Self-Esteem in Your Child Today by Kathleen DesMaisons are available at the Abilene Public Library.  Check them out to improve your family's sugar consumption habits.

Article Contributed by A. Marie Skufca, Information Services Librarian at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library

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