Sugar, undoubtedly, holds a prime position in the food habits and popular cuisine of Kerala. However, not many are aware about the contents of the industrially processed sugar or how they are made. While some people vouch for the health benefits of consuming sugar in controlled portions, some others vehemently argue that it is harmful for the body. Sugar is just the common name for sucrose. A molecule each of glucose and fructose forms the sugar. Compared to glucose, fructose is sweeter, giving sugar its quintessential sweetness.
What is sugar?
Sugar, in simple terms, could be called processed carbohydrates. Table sugar is prepared by processing the sugar cane juice in various levels. Though sugar cane juice contains calcium, iron and phosphorus, they are lost as a result of the multi level processing. So, it is quite clear that sugar doesn't contain any proteins or other essential nutrients. Studies reveal that a tea spoon full of sugar contains around 20 calories.
Healthy or harmful?
Whether sugar is healthy or harmful to the human body is a much debated issue. While everyone is aware about diabetes, not many know that over consumption of sugar may cause increased blood pressure levels, heart ailments and obesity. Latest researches reveal that consuming too much sugar causes fatigue and even mental illness as well.
Lack of calcium in processed sugar makes the bones weak and unhealthy, often leading to conditions like osteoporosis. Besides, it may also affect dental health and cause insomnia, fluctuation in the natural nutrients in the body and amnesia. Over consumption of sugar may lead to learning disabilities and other behavioural issues in kids. The increased production of serotonin in the brain may even cause mental illnesses.
Jaggery and palm jaggery made from sugarcane and natural honey are fit to be called the alternatives for processed sugar. Honey could be used as a medicine as well. The presence of calcium and phosphorus are more in these items.
How much is too much?
Those who are healthy can consume up to 4 -5 tea spoons of sugar a day. It will provide about 100 calories to the body. Most bakery food items and aerated drinks contain high fructose corn syrup which has high sugar content. This is harmful for people of all ages.
No to artificial sweeteners
Saccharine and sucralose are artificial sweeteners which are commonly used as sugar substitutes. Though cheaper than regular sugar, it may severely affect the nervous system and may even cause cancer. It may lead to allergies in some people. Substances like sorbitol are known for causing diarrhoea.