Tuesday, March 8, 2011

there's sugar in my....

I was on my way up to Vermont this past weekend, and in need of a Paleo snack. On the road Paleo friendly snacks are hard to come by--- only rest stops and fast food joints, not too promising for the Paleo Girl. When we stopped for gas, I popped into the convenience store and grabbed one of the only Paleo friendly snacks I could find- a bag of nuts: Peppered Cashews (sounded yummy!). Back on the road and half way through the bag, I turned it over and looked at the ingredients: Cashews, Sea Salt, Pepper, Sugar. WHAT! There is sugar on my nuts? Why the H- E- double hockey sticks would they put sugar on the nuts... when making peppered nuts at home would you think to yourself- I know what I should add to these peppery nuts- SUGAR? Of course not... so why is the manufacturer adding it! I was pissed... but also intrigued.

What else do they add sugar to?

Along with trans fats, sugar is the worst thing you can put in your body. There are 4 classes of simple sugars which are regarded by most nutritionists as "harmful" to health: sucrose, fructose, honey, and malts. These simple sugars have been observed to aggravate asthma, trigger mood swings, prompt diabetes, hasten heart disease, and activate arthritis. Another of sugar's major detriments to the body is that it raises insulin levels, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system.

An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body's blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you're making way for rapid weight gain. Sugar and vitamin C share a similar chemical structure, therfore they compete for entry into a cell: meaning that if sugar beats out vitamin C, your immune system is going to be suppressed [imagine your immune system as a tiny mouse running along the floor, without sticky sweet sugar, the mouse can sprint around but layout some molasses and the mouse will get stuck and slow to a crawl… the same thing happens to our immune system!] So the more sugar you’re eating the more likely it is that your immune system won’t be able to fight off the common cold because it will be stuck in slow motion due to your sugar intake!

While honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup may seem like better choices (and they are), the reality is that it’s all still sugar. Even these “natural” sweeteners aren’t good for you in abundance. Remember--- WWGD? Grok didn’t have access to honey jars, agave, or maple syrup! And its unlikely Grok figured how to take an agave plant, remove the leaves, extract the sap, and heat at low temps to reveal the sweet stuff. So did he really eat it? - Probably not. Can you imagine Grok bashing a maple tree and waiting there with his cupped hands for some of that sap to trickle out so he could boil it down for the syrup? - Again probably not. However, I'm willing to bet that when Grok did happen upon a glorious bee hive, he would have indulged a bit--- so indulge a bit, like Grok, and keep your Paleo body healthy! If you are going to consume honey, make sure it is organic, raw, unheated honey (What nutrients or enzymes raw honey does contain are destroyed by manufacturers who heat it in order to give it a clear appearance to enhance sales). On the other hand, cavemen ate a relatively low carb low glycemic diet, and that's what we're trying to emulate on the paleo diet, in hopes of enjoying the benefits. Agave nectar is a low glycemic food - Maple syrup is not as good as agave in that respect, but they are both way better for you and your body than cane sugar! So even though it's unlikely cavemen ate either, they are natural products that help us to reduce the glycemic load of our diets and thus appreciate those benefits. IN MODERATION they can be primally ok--- but on the paleo diet stick with sparse uses of organic raw honey.

The average American consumes an appalling 2-3 pounds of sugar each week, which is 104-156 pounds of sugar every year; an increase from 26lbs in 1980 (that is over 180,000 calories from sugar--- using math: about 3500 calories = 1pound of fat on your body, that means over the course of the year you are adding 60lbs of fat from sugar!!!). This is shocking, but then again, when you consider that highly refined sugars in the forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are being processed into so many foods we eat (bread, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and a plethora of microwave meals) maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising… Let’s take a closer look and see where this sugar is hiding!

What else do they add sugar to?

Salad Dressings – My beloved Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing--- 5th ingredient--- SUGAR! Say it isn’t so! I’ll be making my own dressing from now on! Check out my recipe.
Tomato soup- yup- even Amy’s Organic- a company I once thought infallible! Their Chunky Tomato Bisque has evaporated cane sugar = deadly!
Frozen Sorbet- “all natural” doesn’t mean NO sugar! Check the labels, some can have between 2-4 sugar sources!!! (Island Way Sorbet- the one with the sorbet in the fruit shell has 3- sugar, liquid sugar, and glucose corn syrup)
Worcestershire sauce- not 1--- but 2 sugars: Molasses and Corn Syrup!
BBQ Sauce- be careful! Some brands (like KC Masterpiece Hickory Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce) contain 4 sweeteners- High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, and Sugar and Brown Sugar!!
Frozen vegetables- CHECK the label! Sugar snap peas, maybe really be Sugar-ed Sugar Snap Peas!
Frozen Chicken Strips- That’s right- I walked into BJs this morning with a coupon in hand to buy Harvestland Frozen Chicken Strips… and what did I find listed in the ingredients: RAW SUGAR!
Fruit Juices- not only is there the natural sugar from the fruit, but usually at least 1-2 more sugars are included in the label!
Jerky- just because it’s meat doesn’t mean it’s Paleo Friendly! (Jack Links Original Beef Jerky has Sugar, corn syrup, and malodextrin--- not to mention soy sauce, MSG, and nitrates! Yuck!)

In all seriousness, WHY ARE THESE MANUFACTURERS ADDING SUGAR!? It makes no sense. They are the reason why America is home to the most obese people in the world. A staggering 33% of American adults are obese. I would even go as far as to blame them for the increase in obesity-related deaths: which have climbed to more than 300,000 a year, second only to tobacco-related deaths!

What else have these wily and tricky guys sabotaged with sugar? Let me know!


  1. Some frozen vegetable concoctions have sugar in them too!!! It's sooo annoying because I find some incredible mixes and oh what do you know SUGAR! I sure as hell am NOT going to buy that now! Oh and sometimes canned fish and chicken has sugar in it is! Ridiculous!! There is no need for the damn sugar! Same thing goes for tapenade mixtures!! Makes me so mad!

  2. Thanks for adding to my list! The frozen veggies really get me going too- it just makes no sense!! I will be sure to check canned meat now too! Thanks GiGi

  3. Here, in Hungary, every f*ckin frozen veggies (and meals) contain sugar. Im so fed up with it. I hardly have the time every day to prepair salads, veggies, etc.