…I recently saw a product with both maltose and sugar listed as ingredients. What is the difference? Which is healthier?
Ever since the book Pure, White and Deadly was published in 1972, there has been a public fear of refined sugars. Although author John Yudkin’s findings were largely ignored by medical professionals at the time, there is a widespread consensus that a high intake of ‘refined sugars’ is bad for health. There is still a lot of debate within the scientific community about the real ‘dangers’ of sugar (Wikipedia offers a summary of the conflicting research).
It’s always good to know what is in your food, and it is in a food manufacturer’s interest to make their product appear as healthy as possible. (A certain fast food restaurant comes to mind which use sports personalities to claim that all athletes eat their sandwiches….which I doubt – Ed.) There are strict regulations on food labelling; however, food producers will still try their best to hide anything that might put you off buying it.
There is a legal requirement that food labels should list all ingredients by their common name:
Confused? They hope so. It is perfectly legal for a food ingredient list to say ‘sugar, fruit juice concentrate, sugars and fructose’, for example.
As for which is the ‘healthiest’ sugar – there really isn’t much between them. There is some research that points to high fructose corn syrup being particularly harmful to health (although this is still strongly debated). Eating foods that naturally contain sugar (e.g. fruit) is always a better of getting sweetness – because these foods also contain fibre, vitamins and minerals.
People with diabetes should generally avoid any food that releases sugar into the bloodstream quickly (looking up the ‘glycaemic index’ and ‘glycaemic load’ of foods can give you a reasonable guide). Surprisingly, some ‘natural sugars’ (e.g. honey) release sugar into the blood stream faster than ‘refined sugars’ (there is an excellent comparative list of different foods here – sugars are on page 12).
Armed with knowledge, hopefully we will all become smarter consumers – or maybe just more cynical. Ah, but enough of that: the undisputed winner of sugars is the sweet stuff we get from our significant others. Plus it doesn’t add anything to the hips.
Answer by Dr Stu
Question from Joanne via email
Healthy food choices are always a topic of contention. We recently showcased the infographic ‘Cookies vs Bananas‘, which demonstrated that so-called ‘unhealthy’ foods can have some unexpected benefits. This startling infographic from Column Five (developed for Massive Health) compares bacon and eggs to a bagel topped with cream cheese. The bagel may look healthier, but looks can deceive… (click image to enlarge) (more…)
Snack time! Decisions decisions… Grab the fruit or the muffin?
We all think we know what the healthy option would be, but with so much information and mis-information it can be difficult to make a good decision.
Ever heard the rumours that bananas aren’t that good for you? Yellow fruit fans will tell you they are packed with potassium and fibre (and they are). Surprisingly though, they are no better at allaying hunger pangs that the more indulgent chocolate chip cookie.
This informative infographic designed by our friends at Column Five, developed for Massive Health, gives some insightful tips on food choices. Combining data for satiety index (how full a food makes you feel) and the glycaemic index (whether you will have a ‘sugar crash’ or not) it lets you can compare your favourite foods.
Put simply, the foods in the top right hand corner of the table below are much more likely to leave you feeling fuller for longer: (more…)