Category Archives: organic

Can You Find the Hidden Sugar?

Sugar, sugar everywhere, and there seems to be enough to share. But how many people actually understand sugar, and how many people know how much sugar they are really receiving in a day?

Last night I made homemade chili for my family (they seem to always request that every week) and my father and my sister ran out of sour cream. Now I usually use whole milk organic plain yogurt in place of sour cream, and this seemed to appeal to them when it never did before. Should they try it? My father looked at the nutrition information (which was a surprise) and exlaimed, “Wow, that sure has a lot of sugar in it.” He then proceeded to smell it to make sure it wasn’t a sweet tasting yogurt that would ruin his savory dish.
Now, this kind of upset me, because my family knows that I would NEVER buy something with added sugar in it, especially if it is organic, so I defended my yogurt with fervor. Yes, it does have 12 grams of sugar per cup, but this is naturally occurring in dairy products as the disaccharide lactose that is found in every dairy product.
I then told them that their sour cream had more sugar than my plain yogurt, and them, being not as adept to reading nutritional labels, told me it only had 2 grams. That’s true; however, it was 2 grams per 2 tablespoons. That would make it have 4 grams more sugar than yogurt!
Now this story (real event) was told to demonstrate the delusion and confusion when it comes to nutritional labels–but mainly when it comes to sugar content. What should you be looking for when it comes to how much sugar you are ingesting in your favorite food?
I am mainly talking about processed food in this post, whether or not it is organic. Whole foods contain very little naturally occurring sugar, unless it is dairy or fruit. Even then, these sugars are metabolized in the body very differently from the foods you will find in the middle of your supermarket, laden with added sugars.
I will not go through the molecular structure of sugar in this post, as that deserves a whole other post on its own. However, I will let you know, before we delve deeper, that regular sugar is made up of two monosaccharides fructose and glucose, in equal amounts. This forms, like I just said, regular sugar, or sucrose.
If you are looking at the back of a nutrition label, and you see a word that ends with the suffix
-ose, you are guaranteed that you are consuming a product with added sugar. The main sugar that the food industry uses now days (if it isn’t organic) is high fructose corn syrup. This damaging form of “sugar” is hard to consume in moderation if one is constantly consuming processed food.
Later on, I will post about the damaging effect of free fructose, as of that found in high fructose corn syrup, but for now we need to concern ourselves with identifying added sugars in our foods. Most foods that we consume on a day to day basis seem as though they wouldn’t need sugar, but the industry places it in there anyway. Everything from breads (even whole wheat and grain), packaged pasta meals, frozen dinners, sausages and meats–these have all been found to have added sugar.
Walking through the grocery store is a bit fun for me, because I am an avid fan of reading nutrition labels. You wouldn’t believe (or if you are reading this blog, you actually may believe) the products that contain added sugar. Every product that I mentioned in the above paragraph contained either corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup–products that naturally would have no sugar in them at all!
When buying processed food, even if it is organic, it is very valuable to your health, and to those you love, to read nutrition labels. You absolutely don’t have to be insane about it, or to work yourself into a rut, just try and look for better options. Different brands of the same foods may have different sugar content, and may contain different forms of sugar. If you are going to buy something that does contain added sugar, it is best to find a brand that uses pure sugar, and not corn syrup, fructose or high fructose corn syrup.
Sometimes we need to buy these foods–for convenience, for taste or pleasure, whatever. Just always keep in mind that there are better options for the same food, and to also notice where the sugar content that is in the nutrition label is coming from. Is it coming from naturally occurring sources like those found in the whole fruit, vegetable or dairy? Or is it coming from the addition of sugar by the manufacturer?
Hopefully this post has given you some insight, advice and guidance on the sugar issue in your food. You can be sure that this won’t be the last, as I have many more posts coming in the future, especially the growing concern over fructose.
Until then, this has been The Healthy Advocate.

The Twisted Truth About Saturated Fat

Note: This is only a fraction of what I have to say about this matter and it is far from complete, and don’t be surprised to see more posts on fats, particularly saturated fats, in the near future.

It’s raining outside, and I sit here sipping on my raw hot chocolate. I love mornings like this. The rain makes it so cozy, and knowing that it is cold outside, I feel very grateful that I have a warm home with everything that I need. There’s a Hitchcock documentary on in the background.

I also begin pondering on a subject that I have spent a bit of time researching on, and I dwell upon this subject for a while, trying to discover why this information is not out to the majority of the public. This is the subject of saturated fat.

Yikes! This term even strikes a bit of fear in myself, because I have always been told that these natural, nature made (or God made, depending on what you believe) fats are harmful and contribute to a variety of diseases like heart disease and elevated cholesterol.

However, I have found this topic to be quite controversial, and with the analysis that I have accumulated in my nutritional research, I quite strongly believe that saturated fat isn’t the devil it is made out to be.

After reading studies accumulated by Dr. Mercola, studying the diets of native and isolated populations (via Nourishing Traditions and The Weston A. Price Foundation), and really delving deep into controversial research, I have found that saturated fat has been a part of healthy populations for centuries. In fact, it has nourished all people for hundreds of thousands of years (maybe millions?), and it wasn’t until the USDA told us to eat more carbohydrates and less overall fat to fight heart disease, that heart disease actually increased.

The “theory” that saturated fat is corrleated to an increase in heart disease was developed by Dr. Ancel Keys in the 1950s (I just finished a fascinating book about Keys’ starvation experiment). His research covered over many different countries, but omitted data that was unfavorable to the study and only concluded seven countries. The research did show a link between fat consumption and heart disease, but only when one looked at the countries Keys included. When one actually looks at all the countries that were available in the study, the link between saturated fat and heart disease completely disappears, and it is seen that there were other factors that contributed toward heart disease.

This study, however, gained much publicity (Ancel Keys was a big guy on publicity of his experiements), and the “Low-fat” craze swept the nation, and later the world, with low-fat and fat-free products for every thing.

According to nutritional researchers Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon, heart disease makes up 40% of all US deaths, and is growing, which should suggests (if you believe in the “Lipid Hypothesis”) that saturated fat consumption (mainly in the form of animal products) has increased. In actuality, saturated fat intake has decreased.

How come if the saturated fat has decreased, the heart disease risk has become even greater? It is believed by many that it has to do with the high level of carbohydrate intake in the forms of processed, refined grains and sugars. These stimulate our insulin levels and elevates our triglyceride and cholesterol levels and hurts our hearts. Plus the intake of trans fats in processed foods, we have consumed large amounts of grains that have degraded our health.

If you look at the USDA food pyramid, you will notice that the majority of our calories should come from grain products, and only HALF of those grains should be whole, complex carbohydrates (these will provide a steadier release of glucose in our system).

However I firmly believe that all grains should be limited, or even eliminated, for overall health. Fresh vegetables, high quality animal proteins and fats and small quantities of soaked and sprouted grains (more on that later) should make the bulk of your diet, as these will not cause a spike in blood sugar.

I definitely don’t want you to take this information as the absolute truth, because I strongly encourage everyone to fully research the nutrition information they hear, so that they can make a strong and firm decision about their health. My research has convinced me about saturated fat being an essential part of life (after all, around 50% of our cells in our body are made of the stuff!).

If you have any questions, or would like to be pointed to sources, studies or research articles, please comment below. I’ll be uploading a new recipe very soon, so stay tuned!

Until next time, this has been the Healthy Advocate.