The Sweet Life- Breaking Down the Sugars

It is a controversial topic; some love it and some loathe it. We are talking about sugar. In episode 22 of Food in Session, we break down various sugars used in cooking, our top choices and tips for taking in less of the sweet stuff.

There are a ton of options now for plain old sugar. Raw sugar, turbinado sugar, organic sugar, coconut sugar, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, corn syrup and the list goes on. When it comes to using sugar in cooking our favorite choices for taste, cooking properties, cost and health are honey, raw/turbinado sugar and pure maple syrup (sorry Mrs. Buttersworth, not you). We discuss the details of each of these in the episode.

One reason we like honey is to use it as a natural cough suppressant. Here is the recipe Emily gave in the episode. Remember never to give honey to children under age 1! Learn more about honey for coughs here.

Overall, it is best to take in less of all forms of sugar. A good target is no more than 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of added sugars per day. Try these tips to cut back:

  1. When baking, make smaller portions like muffins or mini muffins instead of a whole cake and freeze half of the batch for later use.

  2. Look for condiments like barbecue sauce, marinades and dressings that have less sugar. Remember every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. If you have something with 8 grams or more per serving, try cutting it with vinegar, low sodium broth or water when cooking.

  3. Avoid sugary drinks, including 100% fruit juice. Remember alcoholic drinks too, especially those that have a lot of sugar like margaritas, frozen drinks, and mixers like cranberry juice and tonic.

  4. Be a little less sweet! Research shows that too much sugar can accelerate skin aging due to a process called “glycation”. Glycation happens when excess sugar speeds up the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which keeps the skin firm. When the fibers in skin connect with sugar they become weak and less supple which results in wrinkles, sagging and loss of radiance/glow. As Jimmy Fallon would say, "Ew!"

Note: All the information is based upon professional and personal experience working in the health industry. We are not doctors and this should not be taken as medical advice but rather health/diet guidance.