We all know that too much sugar isn’t good for us, but with increasing evidence emerging showing that sugar is the primary evil in the world’s obesity epidemic it’s no wonder that a growing number of us are taking the decision to cut the sweet stuff out completely!
Current UK government guidelines recommend that adults should only be consuming a maximum amount 30g (7 sugar cubes) of added sugar a day and for children this goes down to 24g (6 sugar cubes) for 7-10 year olds and 19g (5 sugar cubes) for 4-6 year olds. Whilst this may seem relatively high, an amount you might think you don’t even come close to consuming each day, if you look at the ingredients of everything you eat in a day and jot down the sugar content, I’m fairly certain you’ll be in for a shock.
Added sugars are found in obvious things such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, fizzy drinks and juices, but it is also added into savoury foods such as soups, baked beans, pasta sauces and even bread. In fact it is these foods you should be checking the most, as they are the ones you least expect and are arguably the worst culprits.
Just take a look at the sugar content of these seemingly ‘healthy’ foods:
Innocent Smoothie —–> 26G of sugar per glass
Eat Natural Snack Bar —–> 10.5g of sugar per bar
Activia Low Fat Yogurt —–> 11g of sugar per 125g
Heinz Tomato Soup —–> 10.6g of sugar per 300g
Back in January last year we asked the question ‘Is sugar really that bad for you?’ in our article, which focused on whether we should blame sugar entirely for the bad state of our health.
Since then a lot has happened:
- Jamie Oliver‘s suggested sugar tax made it into George Osborne’s 2016 budget.
- Food activity labels proposed for 2017 that highlight how much exercise you need to do to burn off the calories.
- From 2018 soft drinks companies will pay a levy on drinks with added sugar.
- A rise in popularity of sugar free recipe books such as, ‘Davina’s 5 Weeks to Sugar-Free‘, ‘Deliciously Ella‘, ‘I Quit Sugar for Life‘.
- Greater availability of alternatives and an increased awareness of what other ingredients we can use to naturally sweeten our food.
So it seems simple right? Just cut out sugar and all will be fine…
But we all know it’s not as easy as that!
If, like me, you suffer from the rather debilitating condition of ‘having a sweet tooth’ then you’ll know that it’s not a case of simply banning sugar from the house and taking biscuits and cakes off your order history when you next do your online shop.
There’s no question that sugar is addictive.
Anything that has the power to make you want more of it is an addictive substance and sugar definitely falls into that category; the more you have, the more your body craves it. This means if you don’t go completely cold turkey, there will always be an urge to eat sugary foods within you. I’ve learnt over the years that I am an all or nothing kind of girl, but the thought of cutting sugar out completely makes me feel a bit sad (I really do LOVE cake!) so it is still very much a part of my diet.
I try, where possible, to substitute normal sugar for the supposedly more healthy alternatives like honey or maple syrup, but sometimes it’s difficult to incorporate them into certain recipes without it altering the taste or texture. Which is why when a product arrived at the Art of Healthy Living offices claiming to be a completely natural sugar alternative, I couldn’t wait to find out more!
Total Sweet uses the natural sugar alternative, xylitol, which derives from European Birchwood trees. The word xylitol comes from the Greek word xyl, meaning wood and has been used since the Second World War when sugar was rationed. Its popularity is growing steadily as more and more people are looking for an alternative to sugar that doesn’t contain any of the chemical nasties that are in so many of the sweeteners currently available.
Total Sweet can be used in the same way as sugar; you can add it to hot drinks, you can bake with it, cook with it in fact the only things you can’t do with it is use it as a yeast activator in bread making, nor will it caramelise, so it won’t work on things like cremè brûlée.
So, we’ve established that Total Sweet is as versatile as sugar and we know it’s natural because it comes from trees, but why should we use xylitol over the bog standard normal everyday sugar that we have become so accustomed to?
Check out the benefits:
- Because it is natural, it is aspartame free. Great news, because although aspartame is used in many popular sugar free products, there have been lots of links between certain health problems and the consumption of aspartame, particularly in young children.
- Total Sweet has 40% less calories than sugar – what’s not to like about that?!
- Total Sweet has a GI value of 7 – making it more likely to fill you up for longer and therefore you are likely to use less.
- It is perfectly safe for Diabetics to consume it (although please seek advice from your health professional first)
- It comes from sustainable plant sources – bonus ‘good for the environment’ points!
- It contains less than 1/2 the amount of carbohydrates than normal sugar
- It is better for your teeth!
Let’s take a look at that last point, ‘its better for your teeth’. We all know that teeth don’t like sugar; it’s their worst enemy. And the reason for this is because when sugar is broken down in the mouth it creates a very high acid environment. This is bad news for teeth, as it is this acid that causes the protective enamel to erode. Xylitol on the other hand does the complete opposite. When it is broken down in the mouth it creates an alkaline environment instead, so rather than damaging teeth it can actually help them out by reducing bacteria and plaque and even help to strengthen the enamel. Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, states that “xylitol may be the biggest advance against cavities since fluoride”, which I’m sure you’ll agree is pretty big news!
I think for me, one of the biggest benefits of Total Sweet, aside from being a healthier alternative to sugar, is how it can simply fit into everyday eating without expecting any special treatment. When I’ve used sweeteners in recipes in the past I’ve always found it incredibly tricky trying to work out just how much to use; sometimes you need more because it’s just not sweet enough and other times you need far less. However, with Total Sweet there is no such problem. If a recipe requires, for example, 100g of sugar then guess what? that’s exactly the amount of Total Sweet you should be using. How easy is that!? There is no need for trial and error or complex calculations over how much to use, you simply measure up like for like with sugar.
By switching from sugar over to a product like Total Sweet just imagine the calories you’ll save, the trips to the dentist and therefore the money you’ll save in the long run!
Obviously in an ideal world it would be fantastic if none of us ate any sugar at all, no matter what form it’s in, as it is the one thing in our diets that our bodies simply don’t need. It is one of life’s little pleasures, rather than something we need to survive. However, in a world where we are literally surrounded by sweet things every which way we turn, if you are someone who needs a little sweetness in your life then make a natural, healthier choice and try switching to a product like Total Sweet.