So, last week we discussed the facts about sugar and this week we're taking the knowledge a step further. This is the sugar vs sweeteners debate. To be quite honest, we still don't know what is best ourselves and you can see for yourself why.
(Image credit: Food Navigator)
So, you're probably thinking 'what is the difference between pure sugar and a sweetener?'. Sugar is an easily metabolised carbohydrate and a sweetener is an additive that we add to foods for a sweeter effect. Sugar does not require authentication but sweeteners need to be approved by a specific body or the EU. Sugar is calorific but sweeteners tend to be zero calories. While sugar is a natural product, sweeteners can be either natural or artificial.
When it comes to dental health, sugar is the scientifically proven cause of tooth decay. However, chemical sweeteners have no proven link with tooth decay and some sweetened gum can even help repair tooth enamel.
Stevia which is an extract from the stevia plant has become very popular throughout the past few years when it comes to looking for a natural sweetener. It is calorie free and shockingly 200/300 times sweeter than sugar itself. It's deemed as safe but the evidence is coming forward which state that it may have an impact on fertility. Sweeteners have the capability of stimulating the taste buds which send messages to the brain and can affect hormones along with slowing down metabolism. Both sugar and sweeteners are addictive but sweeteners may be more likely to make someone hungry and eat more.
The harsh reality
There is a side to sweeteners which isn't so sweet. There's a debate which suggests that artificial sweeteners can still lead to weight gain because it stimulates the body to produce insulin which causes the body to store calories as fat. This, of course, can lead to conditions such as diabetes. When researching into the subject, there are a lot of debates and conflicting opinions but the bottom line is that limiting the intake of sugar and fructose is one of the smartest ways to protect long-term health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. This includes eating Gookie Dough in moderation and as a treat (even though it may be extremely tempting to eat the whole tub).
Sugar is the main ingredient in our lives. It is in everything and provides us with the energy we need. However, here are some interesting facts about sugar that you may not know.
(Image credit: Health Magazine)
When we're born, the only taste we crave is sugar. Weird, right? Sugar is also one of the world's oldest ingredients. The sugar cane became used in around 8000 B.C. (don't ask me where they get the statistics from!).
The tallest sugar cube tower measured six feet and ten inches and was built by Camille Courgeon of France on the 1st July 2013. This tower used a whopping 2,669 cubes and was built in just under three hours.
A sugar addiction can be genetic (so you no longer have to blame yourself for giving into those sweet treats). Those who had genetic changes in a hormone called ghrelin consume more sugar and alcohol than those with no gene variation. In fact, sugar and alcohol have similar toxic effects on the liver. Liver damage can occur without excess calories or weight gain.
Sugar is in a lot of products that you wouldn't expect. For example, it is found in tonic water, marinades, bread, dressings and tomato sauce. Heinz ketchup surprisingly has one teaspoon of sugar in each one tablespoon serving.
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Sugar isn't the sweetest thing around. In fact, the sweetest compound ever known is something called lugduname and is over 20,000 times sweeter than sugar. Imagine that intense flavour.
Sugar consumption is on the rise and it is thought that we consume the most sugar through regular soda drinks followed by sweets then cakes, cookies and pies then fruit drinks and finally, dairy desserts and milk along with other grains.
Brazil is the world's largest producer of sugar cane but you'd be surprised that America or the UK isn't the largest consumer. In fact, it's India.
In the 16th century, a teaspoon of sugar cost £3.77. Rather outrageous! Now you can grab a bag for next to nothing.
With blossom as our current inspiration, we thought we'd add a splash of colour to your kitchen with rose petals. Eating roses seems a little odd, but it dates back centuries and is an exquisite yet elegant way to dress up your dessert and presentation when dishing up! They taste exactly how a rose smells, and it gives a sweet crunch. So, let's get stuck in the unique recipe, shall we?
(Image credit: Salt Pepper Skillet)
You will need
(For the sugared rose petals)
One pasteurised egg white beaten with a little water
Fragrant rose petals which are well rinsed and patted dry
A small watercolour brush
(For the rose sugar)
Fragrant rose petals
A presentable jar
(Image credit: Pinterest)
Ensure that your rose petals are pesticide free and remove the bottom white tip of each rose petal and throw away. The tips have a bitter flavour which isn't the greatest! Next, paint both sides of each rose petal with the egg wash, simple syrup or a prepared meringue powder.
Sprinkle sugar on the prepared petals on both sides and set on a piece of parchment paper to let dry overnight. Use your candied petals as edible decorations for your Gookie Dough and store them in the freezer!
To make rose sugar, make sure your roses are organic and remove the bottom white tip of each rose petal. Sprinkle sugar into the bottom of your jar and sprinkle a layer of rose petals over it. Layer more sugar and rose petals until the jar is filled. Store in a cool place for several weeks. When you open the jar, there will be a gorgeous floral scent. Remove the petals before using. You can use this sugar to add flavour to pastries, cookies and confections or stir into tea or lemonade. Gorgeous for summer!
Romantic, elegant, floral and a wonderful twist on your favourite treats. There are endless possibilities when it comes to spring so dig in and enjoy, wake up and smell the roses! Credit to: toriavey.com
So, there's a massive stigma when it comes to sugar being harmful to health. Sure, we know it can cause diseases if consumed at a high level and with sugar tax making its way into the UK, it could be beneficial for us all.
(Image credit: ICE Cook School)
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate which is digested at a fast rate and causes a spike in blood glucose when consumed alone. Sugar shouldn't be feared, and it's as simple as that. Anything is dangerous; you could technically drink too much water and die (extreme, we know). We're quickly swayed into thinking things are healthier because they don't contain pure sugar. However, honey, fruits and other syrups contain high amounts of sugar so don't be brainwashed!
However, we do need to pay attention to how much sugar is in our diet. We eat too much because it tastes good. Evolutionary means we seek out foods naturally high in sugars because energy and high sugar foods are cheaper. But sugar isn't toxic.
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If we overeat sugar, it means we're consuming extra calories which suggest that weight gain will occur. If a diet consists of foods which are rich in sugar but you're under consuming on calories, then you will still lose weight, but the consequence is that you're malnourished. This again leads to health problems.
Now, there's something called 'free sugars'. These include table sugar, golden syrup, treacle, agave syrup, coconut blossom syrup, unsweetened fruit juice and honey. These are sugars added by the manufacturer plus sugars which are present in honey etc. On the other hand, there are sugars we don't count as 'free'. These include lactose in milk and dairy products, natural sugars in fruit, vegetables and cereals or grains. The average adult eats 2000 calories a day which means that your intake of calories from free sugar should be no more than 100 calories a day.
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If you're an athlete, then sugar is very beneficial because it gives you more energy and can help to build muscle. But, don't stress it. If you want that Gookie Dough tub and have a balanced diet and won't sacrifice other vital nutrients, then indulge and don't feel guilty!