Many of you did the sugar free challenge with me last month. We know that refined sugar can be addicting, could cause depression, and certainly isn’t good for our blood sugar. I recommend using unrefined, traditional sweeteners when you do have a dessert, or, better yet, enjoying fresh fruit. The question I have had recently is how much sugar (even unrefined) is too much? When do sweeteners start effecting us adversely? A teaspoon of sugar? A half of a cup of sugar? Where is the threshold?
Because of this lingering question in my mind, the following paragraph caught my eye in the last Weston A Price Journal, in a great article entitled Zapping the Sugar Cravings (go read it when you have the chance!).
” Becoming sugar-celibate isn’t necessary or appealing to most. We are designed to enjoy sweet foods and, well, they taste good! Nancy Appleton’s extensive research on sugar led her to uncover the fact that, for healthy individuals, the threshold of added sugar is two teaspoons at one time, no more than two to three times a day, totaling two tablespoons altogether. This means any sugar—white table sugar, dehydrated cane sugar juice, maple syrup, honey, dextrose, brown rice syrup, maple sugar or coconut sugar. For unhealthy individuals, no amount of sugar is recommended.”
A few thoughts. First, if you want to follow this advice, then processed foods are out. Even “organic” brands are often high in sugars. I looked up how many grams are in a teaspoon. One teaspoon of white sugar is about 4.2 grams of sugar, so you could have up to 8.4 grams of sugar. The author gave some helpful examples of what this would look like in a real food diet.
• Two teaspoons raw honey in a serving of full-fat, homemade yogurt with berries, ground nuts, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
• Two teaspoons maple syrup blended in a fruit sauce to top soaked wholegrain pancakes or waffles
• One tablespoon honey-sweetened preserves on an almond butter sandwich
• A spoonful of ketchup sweetened with evaporated cane juice on your pastured raised, bison burger
• One tablespoon date syrup or paste in an avocado pudding
• A small pour of brown rice syrup in a smoothie with egg yolks, berries and coconut oil
• A muffin recipe made with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) coconut sugar per dozen (equals 2 teaspoons per muffin)
I actually found it encouraging that if you are healthy that you could have some sweeteners without it throwing your body out of balance! But this amount of sweetener is definitely lower than most of us are used too. I am going to experiment a little with desserts and see what this would look like translated into regular cooking. I am interested in reading more research on this topic to answer further questions (such as whether fruit sugar is included in those sugar grams).
What do you think? Does this sound encouraging or discouraging to you? Do you feel that you could get your sweetener consumption down to lower levels like this, or are you already there?