Would you feed your child a chocolate bar for breakfast or eat a bag of candy as a mid-morning snack?
If the thought of this sound appalling to you then you are in the vast majority of folks who would like to eat healthy and feed their families nourishing foods. However, the problem is some commercial foods that seem healthy actually contain just as much if not more sugar than the kind of desserts that only are meant to be eaten occasionally.
According to Dr. Stanley Vollant, an Innu medical doctor and activist who was Quebec’s first Aboriginal surgeon and first Aboriginal to be head of the Quebec Medical Association, a lot of Natives eat too much sugar for their own good.
“Four decades ago our people got 80% of their calories from proteins and lipids with only 20% coming from sugars and at that it was natural sugar from berries. Now, on the North American diet, 70-75% of our calories are coming from sugar. Processed foods are comprised of 75% sugars and our bodies are not capable of dealing with this,” said Vollant to the Nation back in 2010.
Considering the fact that consuming too much sugar can lead to obesity which can in turn cause Type 2 diabetes among other health conditions, it is best to be avoided.
But, this is easier said than done when you consider how many so-called “health foods” actually contain just as much if not more sugar than junk food.
Take for example the smoothie, a blended drink that is usually a combination of fruit and often yoghurt or fruit juice and ice. It sounds like a healthy treat and these beverages are often marketed as being “low in fat”. So the diet conscious will opt for this frosty delight thinking that they aren’t doing any damage, but these drinks are often laden with sugars.
McDonald’s new McCafe Smoothies are a prime example of this. While a medium mango-pineapple may be touted as a healthy treat because it only contains five grams of fat, it also has 60 grams of sugar. That is more than twice the amount of sugar as a Snickers bar.
To put it into perspective, the McDonald’s hot-fudge sundae actually contains less sugar at 48 grams per serving.
Over at Tim Horton’s the seemingly innocuous Low Fat Double Berry muffin seems like the ideal choice for the health-conscious individual on the go, right? However, this product has a walloping 30 grams of sugar.
The danger here is that these high-sugar snacks and treats are often add-ons to already super-sized meals or considered as ideal gap fillers between meals. In the long term, they can add on a great deal of extra weight if not consumed in moderation.
How much sugar an individual should have varies per institution. The Institute of Medicine recommends that no more than 25% of a total caloric intake come from added sugars whereas the World Health Organization recommends a daily maximum of 10% of calories from simple sugars (table sugar).
Looking at that calorically, according to Canada’s Food Guide, a sedentary adult male aged 31-50 is supposed to consume 2350 calories per day. Taking into account that sugar is approximately four calories per gram, if you consume 60 grams of sugar in one smoothie, that is 240 calories, approximately the total allowance of sugar for the entire day in just one beverage.
But, considering the fact that this individual will already be getting sugars that day in anything from the majority of processed foods to basic items, such as breads, yogurt, juices and sauces, they will have consumed too much sugar for that day.
So when it comes to eating right, checking the labels and product websites for how much sugar each “health food” product contains has become a necessity instead of a curiosity.