Debunking the Sugar Confusion


    Chef Georgie Soskin and nutritionist Jo Saunders of Cooking them Healthy shed light on good and bad sugars…

    As new research studies are carried out and updated health information becomes available, the media tends to run with this, creating trends in nutrition news. As we are sure you are aware, sugar is currently the ‘big thing’ and according to a recent study by Bupa nearly half of mums (46%) are worried their child might be addicted to sugar.
    The news that sugar is
    bad for us is hardly groundbreaking, however it does inevitably create some confusion and raises certain questions. Here at Cooking them Healthy we aim to debunk the confusion, highlight new important developments and offer advice on possible sugar alternatives for your family.
    We are all naturally drawn to sugar – and it does have addictive qualities.
    Our first milk as babies is sweet, due to the lactose content, and that sweet tooth develops as we grow.
    But is sugar all bad? We actually all need some sugar, or specifically glucose, in our diets as it acts as fuel to power all our body’s cells. This can be found in the carbohydrates that we eat (all carbohydrates break down into sugars in different forms), such as fructose found in fruit and some root vegetables and lactose, found in milk. It is the added sugar in our diets
    that is creating the potential problem – have a look at our list of sugar alternatives (right) to help you make healthier choices.
    When people talk about the evils of sugar they are generally referring to refined sugars. Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients, and it actually requires nutrients for its metabolism and will therefore rob them from your child’s body. Eating sugar tends to cause a spike in blood glucose levels, which in turn has a knock on effect on how we feel, affecting our mood and energy levels, which is particularly noticeable in little ones. More long-term intake of high levels of sugar can lead to related health problems such as type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Sugar can also have an inflammatory effect on the body, as well as weakening the immune system and exacerbating existing conditions such
    as eczema.
    At Cooking them Healthy, we more than understand the importance of balance for happy family life, and it is unrealistic to expect families to eliminate added sugar altogether. After all, sweet foods taste good, and life would be no fun if we didn’t allow ourselves and our children a treat every now and again. We would however encourage you to embrace the alternatives, and where possible, swap refined sugar for a more nutritious alternative. Low sugar certainly doesn’t have to be tasteless and dull. It is also really worth looking at your family’s diet and putting some thought into ways to reduce the sugar content
    – you will be surprised how easy it is to do.


    At Cooking them Healthy we like to use alternatives to refined sugars such as honey, maple syrup and dried and fresh fruit. These foods contain sugar but are less processed and have nutritional benefits. Here’s our guide to sugar alternatives.

    White or brown sugar?
    Brown and white sugar are fairly nutritionally equal. There are some ‘healthier’ brown sugars such as coconut palm sugar and Rapadura sugar.

    Maple syrup
    Maple syrup is rich in minerals such as zinc, potassium, iron and manganese. Darker maple syrup is richer in antioxidants than paler versions.

    Dried fruit
    Dates, for example, are naturally packed full of fibre and contain health-boosting minerals.

    Fresh fruit
    Fruit is full of fibre plus useful vitamins and minerals. Try grated apples to sweeten recipes.

    Brown rice syrup
    Popular in the health community, this is a sweetener derived from brown rice, releasing sugar into the bloodstream more slowly than other types.

    Honey has natural antimicrobial properties and contains vitamins C and B6 to support immune health. Find local raw honey which hasn’t been heat treated as this can reduce its health benefits.


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