No Added Sugar – FitChef’s Strict EatClean Principles

FitChef - Eat Clean
FitChef - Eat Clean

South African adults are eating a whopping 12 teaspoons of sugar per day, according to research (The USA average is around 17 teaspoons per day).

It is a well-known fact that our food system is overloaded with added sugar. Sugar is nutrient- and fibre-poor yet packed with energy, making it a poor choice, diluting the nutritional value of our diets with loads of empty and wasteful energy (kilojoules/calories).

Added sugar is broken down in the body into glucose and fructose. The muscles and brain can use and store glucose as glycogen. However fructose is almost entirely processed by the liver. The trouble is that fructose is regarded as the more ‘dangerous’ sugar being linked to fatty liver disease and metabolic disease.

Let’s be sensible about sugar. While we all need to actively watch our sugar intake, we need to especially focus on avoiding added sugars from foods like soft drinks, treats like cakes, cookies, sweets and pastries, and ultra-refined foods.

Many people tend to demonise a nutrient, suggesting that we should eliminate all/most whole fruit because of the fructose component.

But we need to also realise the incredible benefits of fruit that is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and more.

It is important to note though that natural sugar, like that found in fruit, has not been linked to inflammation, behaving very differently to added sugar when consumed and digested in the body.

In fact, many foods containing natural sugars, such as fruits and vegetables, are actually anti-inflammatory foods. Fruit and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants that soothe inflammation and are also accompanied by fibre which slow down the digestion and absorption of the natural sugar which prevents blood sugar spikes.

Fruit juices, even when unsweetened, are still unnaturally high in fructose sugar.

Drinking large amounts of fruit juice instead of sodas is not recommended as this can certainly contribute to metabolic diseases.

Rather choose mostly eating the whole fruit instead of the fruit juice version.

At least fruit juices do contain a lot more nutrients than soft drinks or energy drinks.

Fruit juices have a place in a balanced and healthy diet, but we need to use them very carefully and responsibly.

The FitChef Way

This is why FitChef does not add sugar to any of our foods, rather utilising the natural sweetness of fruit and vegetables in our meals and the occasional touch of honey.

FitChef does understand that adding honey is considered adding sugar, which is why we only do it occasionally.

However we do regard honey as a better nutrient source than other refined sugars, honey has health properties that other sugars do not.

This statement is not true. While there may be some minerals in honey, the minute amounts do not warrant eating it in place of sugar and should still be eaten with the same caution applied to added sugar.

References

  • Vorster HH, Kruger A, Wentzel-Viljoen E, Kruger HS, Margetts BM. Added sugar intake in South Africa: findings from the Adult Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology cohort study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;99(6):1479-86.
  • Jegatheesan P, De Bandt JP. Fructose and NAFLD: The Multifaceted Aspects of  Fructose Metabolism. Nutrients2017, 9(3), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9030230
  • Hannou SA, Hasmal DE. McKeown NM, Herman MA. Fructose metabolism and metabolic disease. J Clin Invest.2018;128(2):545-555. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI96702.
  • Joseph SV, Edirisinghe I, Burton-Freeman BM. Fruit Polyphenols: A Review of Anti-inflammatory Effects in Humans. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.2016;56(3):419-44. Doi: 10.1080/10408398.2013.767221.
  • Zhu F, Du B, Xu B. Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes: A review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2017;58(1):1-11.
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