By Johanna Gan, HoneyColony
Sugar, masked in its sweetness, is the devil in disguise. And it has many different outfits.
Often people think of sugary sweets as treats, purchasing them as rewards for the work they’ve accomplished after a long day. But since sugar cravings are very real, the sugar habit can quickly become dangerous. Sugar is not very different from other addictive substances. Research findings reveal “that sugar and sweetness can induce reward and craving that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs.”
Companies like Sprinkles Cupcakes have capitalized on the public’s demand for sweets by developing innovative cupcake ATMs that are available 24 hours a day. So don’t be surprised when you spot a line of people buying red velvets from a dispenser.
In terms of physical health, “It’s important to realize that sugar is a primary dietary factor driving obesity and chronic disease development,” Dr. Joseph Mercola recently explained. Obesity is growing to be the No. 1 global health concern, and sugar consumption appears to be the handbasket taking us down the path to Fat Town. Sugar consumption contributes not only to obesity but to many health issues, such as diabetes and ADHD. So it’s important to know exactly what you’re eating. Recognizing the different faces of sugar is helpful in identifying where sugar may be hiding in your food.
A recent article by Elle Penner identifies 10 foods with a surprising amount of sugar, many containing up to four teaspoons per serving. As with salt, many companies add sugar or genetically modified corn syrup to their products to enhance flavor. Meanwhile, “light” or “reduced fat” products are just as likely to contain added sugar to offset the loss of flavor from removing the fat.
The items on the list range from fast-food chicken sandwiches to non-dairy milks, which often have sugar hiding among their ingredients. Elle reminds consumers that “ingredients are listed by weight,” with the bulk of the ingredients listed at the top. (Some additional ingredients to look out for can be found here.) Yet the common thread among these products is that they are all processed, prepackaged foods—once again supporting the idea that a healthy diet consists of naturally grown, unprocessed foods.
Still, not all is lost! One unsuspected hero that may help fight obesity, and tastes great, is raw cacao, otherwise known as chocolate. Raw cacao actually has many benefits and is high in magnesium, a mineral lacking in many American diets. In the epic battle for optimal health, be aware that the darker the chocolate, the more benefits it offers. Likewise, the lighter the sugar, the less nutritional value it provides.
But, as is the case with the foods on Elle’s list, it is important to read the ingredients, as many popular chocolate bars contain an exorbitant amount of refined, processed sugar. Corporations know the seductive power of sugar is hard to resist. They often fool the consumer by adding it to their products, especially those that are marketed as healthful, like oatmeal, to encourage repeat sales. As multinational food companies feed our global addiction, they only reinforce how assuredly that wily ‘ole devil really is in the (ingredient) details.
To learn which foods on Elle Penner’s list contain a surprising amount of sugar, click here.
Featured image credit: (CC) Anna M
Johanna Gan is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, California. She is a Reiki Master who continues to expand her alternative medicine and spiritual practice through the study of Shamanism and Aromatherapy. She enjoys expressing herself creatively through the visual arts and animation, and she loves flowers. Follow her on Twitter @johganna_.
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