Sugar the scapegoat: no such thing as good and bad sugars.
In recent times, all the world’s problems have been blamed on so-called “bad sugars”. Obesity, poor mental health, and even sexual dysfunction are caused by bad sugar. A slew of books, films and articles advocate quitting sugar. But is quitting sugar just the latest dieting fad?
Is there such thing as good sugars and bad sugars? According to practising dietician Julie Gilbert, no.
Gilbert, who is a spokesperson for the Dieticians Association of Australia, says “no matter what form it comes in, it is roughly around the same in calorie value. Some [forms of sugar] may break down a little bit slower than the others, but overall there’s not much difference”.This is bad news for anyone who has quit refined sugar just to replace it with honey, agave or maple syrup.
But the bad news for sweet toothed among us doesn’t stop there. “The problem with sugar is that it actually doesn’t add any nutritional value to what we’re eating”, says Gilbert. “All it really does is … help to store more fat on the body”.
In Sweet Poison, David Gillespie claims that fructose is causing the obesity epidemic. Fructose is found in fruit, but also added to sweet foods (such as chocolate, lollies and soft drinks). Another carbohydrate, lactose, has gotten a similarly bad rap. However, Gilbert says that fructose and lactose naturally occur in healthy foods “that are really high in fibre or vitamins and minerals”, and should not be avoided.
Ultimately, “the problem with sugar is what it actually comes in”. In other words, focus on eating foods high in nutritional value.
“How do you like your fat: Sugared or salted?”
Our bodies crave fat the most but, Gilbert claims, “it’s not like we take out a teaspoon of butter and eat it that way”, so we flavour our fat.
When we crave biscuits, cakes or chocolates, we aren’t craving the sweetness of the sugar, but the fat. Savoury foods are just fats that have been salted, or given other flavours.
For reliable information on nutrition, check out the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommend eating a variety of vegetables, legumes, grains, fruit, dairy and lean meats. They also suggest we avoid processed foods high in added salts,