Monday, February 17, 2014

Watch Out for Added Sugars, And a Recipe for No-Sugar Added Granola Bars

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that eating too much added sugar does not only increase our waist size—it also increases our risk for heart disease.  And most American adults—71.4 percent—eat more added sugar than recommended by health experts.  Other recent studies have found eating too much added sugar directly increases the risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and dementia.

This does not mean sugar is inherently bad, or that you can’t ever eat sugar again.  It’s just important to be aware of the amount of added sugar you’re eating.  And, you may not even realize it!

Sugars in your diet can be naturally occurring or added. 

·       Naturally occurring sugars are found in foods such as fruit and fruit juice (fructose) and milk products (lactose).  Vegetables also have some naturally occurring sugars.  Naturally occurring sugars are good sources of carbohydrate, for energy.  Also, when you eat naturally occurring sugars from whole foods, you’re also consuming the inherently good properties from those foods, such as fiber and antioxidants from fruits or protein from dairy products.  

·       Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing, or added at the table (like when you add sugar to your cereal or oatmeal).  The major sources of added sugars are regular soft drinks, sugars (including brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup), candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruit drinks (like fruit punch), dairy desserts and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk), and other sugar-sweetened grains (cinnamon toast and waffles).  Added sugars have no nutritional value, other than a source of energy. 

For example, just one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains eight teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories and zero nutrition.

Most people consume more sugar than they realize.  To figure out if a food contains added sugars (and how much it contains, you have to look at the nutrition label and the ingredient list.  After you’ve determined whether the food has added or naturally occurring sugars, then you can make an informed decision about whether it’s a good choice. 

1.     Look at the nutrition label

Under the total carbohydrates, you’ll find a line for sugars, and the number of grams of sugar per serving in this item.  This number is the total number of sugars in this food—both naturally occurring sugars AND added sugars.
2.      Look at the ingredient list
To determine whether the food has naturally occurring sugars, added sugars, or both, read the ingredient list.  Sugar has many other names. Besides those ending in “ose,” such as maltose or sucrose or fructose, other names for sugar include high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey, maple syrup or fruit juice concentrates.  If the sugar ingredient is in the first three or four ingredients on the label, it means it’s a big proportion of that product.
How Much Added Sugar is Too Much?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following amounts as the maximum amount of added sugars to eat in a day.  This does not count fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice or dairy products, all of which have naturally occurring sugars (but check those labels for added sugars!).
·       Women:  6 teaspoons (24 grams) daily (100 calories)
·       Men:  9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily (150 calories)
·       Children:  3 teaspoons (12 grams) daily (48 calories)

Tips for Reducing Added Sugar

·       Read labels!  Choose products with the least amount of added sugars.
·       Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee or tea.  Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half.
·       Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup.
·       Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, add fresh fruit or dried fruit.
·       When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often, you won’t notice the difference. 

Here’s a recipe for no sugar added granola bars.  They get their sweetness from dates, a natural source of sugar.

No-Sugar Added Granola Bars

¾ cup water
¾ cup dates
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup dried apricots, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 x 9 pan in the long direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposite sides.  Lightly grease the parchment paper with coconut oil (or butter)

Add the water and dates to a blender and process until very smooth.  Pour the date paste into a bowl, and then add the almond butter and coconut oil.  Stir to combine.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the oats, salt, almonds, coconut flakes and apricots.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients until the mixture is evenly combined.  Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges and on the top.  Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. Once they have cooled, move the pan to the fridge to further set them.  Once they are completely chilled, remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper, and cut them inot squares. 

To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic and store them in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.  If they crumble (which they might!) just use them like you would granola.  They are still delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! this is very nice recipe, i like it, Really this is nice article. no added sugar