Choosing natural sugars, choosing right Choosing natural sugars, choosing right

Opt for foods with unrefined sugar, watch the amount of sugar you add to your coffee and keep the desserts you eat under control.

Medical Advisor: Sandro Gómez, dietician

Sugar is an important carbohydrate that provides us with the energy we need for the day, it benefits the development of our brain function and aids in muscle contraction. In general, the majority of foods we include in our diets have it, either naturally through fruits.

Which are rich in fiber, water, vitamins and antioxidants – or through milk, a good source of essential proteins and minerals such as calcium. Sugar can also come in the form of added sugar through boxed cereals, sodas, chocolate, ketchup, and candy. It is also commonly found in our diets, especially in the diets of Colombians: bread, rice, pasta, plantains, potatoes and yucca. Together, these foods are a significant source of sugar.

While it appears as though it may be difficult to escape, dietitian Sandro Gómez recommends reducing the excessive consumption of glucose, instead of avoiding it. The World Health Organization suggests needing no more than 8 to 10 teaspoons of sugar a day, less than 10% of a person’s total calories: “This includes both added sugar and when it is used as an ingredient,” Moreno states.

The National Cancer Institute indicates that a diet that is high in sugar can lead to weight gain and contribute to cardiovascular risk. Some may then ask what type of sugar is suggested: refined sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar or panela (unrefined whole cane sugar)? With all of these options, they should be consumed in moderation. Read on for a more detailed description of these sugars.

Different types of sugar

Refined sugar: this is a pure sugar extract, more technically referred to as sucrose. Refined sugar is a disaccharide consisting of two sugar cane molecules, one glucose and one fructose. Refined foods provide empty calories, meaning they do not contain a proper amount of nutrients. This type of sugar is usually found in processed foods, which also contain many saturated fats: cakes, desserts and ice cream.

 Brown sugar: while it contains more or less the same amount of calories, this type of sugar is less processed and refined than white sugar, so it maintains more nutrients. The difference is that it provides a small amount of B vitamins in addition to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, which is why it is considered healthier. Reducing your consumption is also recommended, however.

 Organic sugar: organic sugar is produced without agrochemicals as it does not use certain fertilizers, pesticides or antibiotics. Despite this production process, it contains the same amount of calories as other sugars and its nutritional properties are also identical. Organic sugar producers must follow the stipulations of an organization that certifies its production complies with the appropriate methods for organic certification.

 Panela: this is the juice that comes from sugar cane that is crystallized through an evaporation process. It does not undergo any process to refine it, so while it still contains calories, it is one of the purest forms of sugar and is rich in nutrients. Panela maintains its essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamins such as vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin C. When purchasing panela in Colombia, make sure it complies with Invima regulations, Colombia’s food and drug administration. Panela can be described as not very sweet, not very clear, and its texture is not very grainy.

 Know how to read the label

Balance. A product is high in sugar if it contains more than 15 g of sugar per 100 g of the product’s total weight. It is low if it consists of less than 5 g. For example, a container of packaged applesauce can have about 14 g of sugar per 100 grams.

Be informed. All words ending in -ose such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, dextrose and maltose, have sugar.

Check. Read the ingredients list to see what type of sweetener it has, if it is different from sugar. Generally, labels do not include a percentage, but the ingredients are ordered from highest to lowest in terms of their quantity in the product. For example, if the second ingredient in a beverage is sugar, you can expect there to be a higher sugar content.

Differentiate. Light products are low in calories, but they are not always sugar-free.

Learn. There are foods that say no added sugar on the label, which means that processed sugar did not get added to the product’s natural sugar.

Honey is rich in antioxidants,fiber, minerals and vitamins that can serve as a sugar substitute because of its natural processing conducted by bees.

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