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Hey, sugar!

Let's discuss sugar. What is sugar? Sugar is the combination of two compounds: glucose and fructose. The combination of these compounds creates sucrose, aka sugar.


Where does sucrose come from? Sucrose comes from the photosynthesis of plants, and "photosynthesis is the process by which plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create oxygen and energy in the form of sugar" (nationalgeographic.org).


So if sugar comes from plants, does this mean the sugar we ingest from a fruit would be the same sugar we ingest from a candy bar? And if that is true, does that make a candy bar healthy!? Well, unfortunately no. Sugar from fruit and sugar from a candy bar come from the same source, but sugar from a candy bar "has been processed so only sugar remains" (mdanderson.org).


But wait, what do you mean sugar only remains from sugar??


Let's go back to photosynthesis and work our way through how sugar is processed.


After sugar is produced from photosynthesis the photosynthesized plants are harvested. These plants are throughly washed, cut, and crushed so that the plant swells and the sugar can be extracted.


After extraction, the plants are milled (juiced) which squeezes out the sugar concentration. The sugar then undergoes purification to lighten its color. Post being lightened, the sugar juice is boiled and vacuumed.


The vacuum process evaporates the sugar syrup until it crystalizes. As the sugar crystals grow, they create a paste that is called "massecuite." This paste is separated into molasses and sugar crystals by centrifugation (being spun very fast in a machine). The sugar crystals are then dried and packaged for consumer use.

(ift.org)


Believe it or not, the above description is a very simplified version of what actually happens in order to process sugar. If you wish to know more, feel free to click here.


With all those steps, it's no wonder our bodies metabolize (break down and use) natural sugars differently than processed, or refined, sugars. It takes more time for the body to digest natural sugars, which, in turn, helps stabilize the body's sugar levels. Refined sugar is absorbed quicker thus causing sugar levels to instantly increase as well as promptly decrease - many people call this a sugar rush and sugar drop or crash. In addition, this quick digestion causes a lack of fulfillment, whereas the lengthier digestion of natural sugar helps you feel fuller longer.

(healthdesigns.net)


If we go back to the example of fruit versus a candy bar, we can see that the consuming the same volume of each has very different nutritional values -


100g of strawberries vs 100g of Hershey's chocolate bar

(nutritionvalue.org)


A 100 grams is 3.5274 ounces. This is equivalent to 14 strawberries or 28 blocks of a Hershey's chocolate bar.


At first glance, we can see that strawberries differ from chocolate in that they contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. (As you may recall from the oats blog, some nutrients may not be listed because the food does not contain a significant amount of them.) We can also identify that the chocolate bar contains considerably higher amounts fat, carbs, sugar, and calories.


Keep in mind that the sugar in the chocolate bar is processed; therefore, although the body may be technically ingesting more macronutrients by consuming the chocolate bar, the body will not have a lot of satiety or fulfillment due to rapid digestion. If the consumer were to choose to eat strawberries, they would get fuller faster due to the slower metabolization and water content. Additionally, if the consumer desires to eat more strawberries, their nutrient quality would still be more balanced than that of the chocolate bar - not to mention, strawberries contain antioxidants that protect cells and help boost the immune system.


All in all, enjoy what your body is asking for - being mindful and consuming in moderation is the best practice when it comes to healthy eating.


Nonetheless, if what your body is wanting is something sweet, I encourage you to take a look at the fruit concoctions below. One may be the perfect fit for your craving -


Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries

  • 2 fresh strawberries

  • 1/2 cup milk of choice

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

  • Blend ingredients until smooth

  • Pour and enjoy

Nutritional Value:

Calories 192

Total Fat 2.3g

Cholesterol 3mg

Sodium 95mg

Total Carbs 41.5g

Dietary Fiber 5.3g

Total Sugars 25.8g

Protein 5.3g


Grapefruit Juice

Ingredients:

  • 1 peeled grapefruit

  • 1 peeled orange

  • 2 peeled carrots

  • 1/2” ginger

Directions:

  • Juice

  • Enjoy!

Nutritional Value:

Calories 167

Total Fat 0.4g

Cholesterol 0mg

Sodium 84mg

Total Carbs 41.1g

Dietary Fiber 8.2g

Total Sugars 26.8g

Protein 3.3g


Green Juice

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pineapple (remove skin)

  • 2 cut up green apples

  • 1 cucumber

  • 2 handfuls of spinach

  • 1 peeled lime

  • 1/2” ginger

Directions:

  • Juice

  • Enjoy!

Nutritional Value:

Calories 157

Total Fat 0.4g

Cholesterol 0mg

Sodium 11mg

Total Carbs 42.4g

Dietary Fiber 8.1g

Total Sugars 28.3g

Protein 1.9g


(Both juices above are recipes from rebootwithjoe.com)


Açaí Bowl

Ingredients:

Smoothie

  • 1 açaí packet (found in the frozen fruit section at the grocery store)

  • 1 frozen banana

  • 1/3 cup almondmilk

  • 2 tsp peanut butter

Toppings

  • Banana slices (1/4 banana)

  • Strawberry slices (2 strawberries)

  • Granola (2 tsp)

  • Peanut butter (2 tsp)

Directions:

  • Thaw the açaí under hot water until it can be broken in pieces

  • Combine smoothie ingredients in blender

  • Blend until smooth

  • Pour into bowl, top with toppings, and enjoy!

Nutritional Value:

Calories 398

Total Fat 16.3g

Cholesterol 0mg

Sodium 136mg

Total Carbs 69g

Dietary Fiber 8.7g

Total Sugars 40.5g

Protein 10.5g


Sources


“Hersheys Milk Chocolate Standard Bar by the Hershey Company.” Hersheys Milk Chocolate Standard Bar by The Hershey Company Nutrition Facts and Analysis., https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Hersheys_milk_chocolate_standard_bar_by_The_Hershey_Company_753446_nutritional_value.html?size=100%2Bg.

“How Sugar Is Processed.” IFT, https://www.ift.org/news-and-publications/food-technology-magazine/issues/2020/july/columns/processing-how-sugar-is-processed.


“Introducing Nama J2.” Joe Cross, 5 Oct. 2021, http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/.


MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Heather Alexander. “Natural versus Refined Sugar: What's the Difference?” MD Anderson Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, 12 Nov. 2021, https://www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/natural-versus-refined-sugar--what-s-the-difference.h00-159465579.html.


National Geographic Society. “Photosynthesis.” National Geographic Society, 5 Sept. 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/photosynthesis/.


“Natural vs Refined Sugar: Why the Difference Matters.” Health Designs, 4 Mar. 2021, https://www.healthdesigns.net/natural-vs-refined-sugar-why-the-difference-matters/.


“Strawberries, Raw.” Strawberries, Raw Nutrition Facts and Analysis., https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Strawberries%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html?size=100%2Bg.

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