Sugar is not just sugar
Hey Sugar! Full sugar cones for school enrolment, cakes with sugar icing in cafés and the candy floss machine on the kids' wish list: the sugar mountain is rising (sorry Mark, this isn't about you 😉 ). On the other hand, topics like "sugar deprivation", "detox" and "diet" seem to be almost a trend. The white sweetness is often accompanied by words such as "poison", "drug", "addiction" and "harmful" and is often mentioned in the same breath as intolerance, headaches and diabetes. Does a waiver really make sense and what are the alternatives?
Sugar comparison – the sugar family is big
More than four-fifths of the sugar produced worldwide is cane sugar. Whether in coffee or yoghurt, for jam or sprinkled over rice pudding as a sugar-cinnamon mixture – the white sweetness has spread quite a bit in our diet.
About 10 kg of sugar beets are needed for 1 kg of pure sugar. These store up to 20% of their weight in sugar during their entire growth phase. When the beet is harvested, the leaves are removed from the root body; the turnips grubbed up. Let's go to the washing and cutting factory. The sugar is extracted with hot water; the juice obtained is then cleaned and thickened until syrup is formed. This is then separated from the sugar. There are three types: whole, whole cane and brown sugar. Whole sugar is unrefined sugar made from beets, whole cane sugar is made from sugar cane, and brown sugar is caramelized sugar colored with syrup.
The problem with the sugar names
It is not always immediately apparent whether products contain sugar. Food manufacturers are allowed to specify more than 60 different sugar names: sucrose, lactose, glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, thick juice, glucose syrup, and many more. No wonder we quickly lose perspective.
Bananas, watermelons, and other fruits also contain sugar—fructose, to be precise; also a component of sucrose (i.e. industrial sweetener). Nevertheless, fruit has a decisive advantage: It does not provide any empty calories and also scores with fiber and vitamins.
The terms "sugar-free" and "sugar-free" also cause confusion. Both do not mean that the product is free of any sugar. A product has only earned the title “sugar-free” if it contains less than 0.5 g per 100 g or millilitre. If no sweetening substance has been added, it may be labeled “no added sugar”. Uff, who's supposed to see through that?
We are also faced with a conflict: we can no longer say “less sugar” because we can only draw comparisons to products with the same calorific value. The fact that our products have a higher energy value and fat content than conventional chocolate bars is because we use nutrient-rich hemp seeds and nuts.
Sugar Alternatives & Sweeteners
Many also like to use sugar alternatives. Some try to replace the sweetness with dates, others with honey. From maple syrup to agave syrup to chemical substitutes such as xylitol and erythritol, the range is now huge. For example, erythritol is a sugar alcohol and is so popular because it has about 70% more sweetening power than industrial sugar, but 0 calories. Synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame K and Co score with zero calories.
Consumed in large quantities, these alternatives can also have a laxative effect. In general, the effect of sweeteners on our health has been the subject of controversy for some time, since negative effects such as weight gain and an increased risk of coronary heart disease cannot be ruled out.
Blood glucose levels: definition and implications
Does food make you tired? The reason: blood sugar level crash. Simply explained, this value indicates the sugar content in the blood (more precisely the glucose content) and changes depending on the diet/food intake.
In order to make the glucose from the blood available to the cells, the hormone insulin is necessary. If this is missing, glucose cannot get into the cells. The result: the level rises. We produce insulin when consuming sugary foods, carbohydrates, but also artificial sweeteners. While this lowers blood sugar levels, it also blocks fat burning. Elevated insulin levels make weight loss more difficult.
In order to measure the blood sugar level, a tiny amount of blood is required, which is taken with a special measuring device. Measured on an empty stomach (in the morning), the normal value is less than 100 mg/dl. It is normal for the value to increase slightly immediately after eating (approx. 140 mg/dl) and fluctuate over the course of the day. We are talking about low and high blood sugar when there is too little (e.g. in diabetes) or too much glucose in the blood. If the value is below 70 mg/dl, you have hypoglycaemia. Symptoms can include inner restlessness, tremors, cravings, sweating and even confusion. Excess sugar (over 160 mg/dl) can in turn lead to tiredness, increased thirst or exhaustion.
Incidentally, the normal value for children is somewhat higher and is around 100-120 mg/dl for babies and toddlers and 120-140 mg/dl for children and adolescents.
The glycemic index (GI) shows how a carbohydrate-containing food affects the blood sugar level and is an indicator of the triggered insulin requirement. The lower the glycemic index, the slower and less strong the level rises.
The benchmark here is pure glucose, because it causes the highest increase in blood sugar of all foods (GI = 100%). White flour products, sweets or sugary drinks, for example, cause blood sugar – and with it the insulin level – to rise very quickly. How high the GI of a food is depends on various factors such as the composition, the degree of processing and individual physiological fluctuations. Some studies show that low GI can lead to improved satiety, and high GI diets can increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease and colon cancer.
Why nucao is a good choice
Every food - and therefore every sweetener - affects the blood sugar level differently. It was clear to us that we neither wanted to use artificial sweeteners in our products nor ingredients with a high glycemic index. So the choice fell pretty quickly on coconut blossom sugar as a substitute. Logically, you need a coconut palm, or to be more precise, its flower nectar, to obtain it. This is boiled down, dried and then finely ground. The processing chain is much shorter compared to conventional sugar, which is why the sugar from the coconut palm still has a small part of its nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc and antioxidants.
Not only the caramel-fruity taste and the versatile use of coconut blossom sweetness are properties that convinced us immediately: Above all, it is unrefined, natural, in organic quality, and in the amounts in which it is found in our products, it only has a minor effect on the blood sugar level. This has now even been confirmed to us in black and white.
In a study in 2021 by Prof. Dr. Stephan Martin from the West German Diabetes and Health Center in Düsseldorf, the rise in blood sugar after eating conventional chocolate bars compared to organic chocolate bars was drawn. nucao was also part of the party. The result is clear.
After eating conventional chocolate bars, the blood sugar level quickly falls below the original level, only to rise again with the next sugar spike - a process that costs the body a lot of energy.
If we now look at the graph of the glucose curve when consuming nucao in comparison, it quickly becomes clear: the comparatively small amount of sugar also gets into the blood and is carried into the cells by insulin, but the blood sugar level – and thus also the energy level – remains the same almost constant for all tested varieties . The reason for this is the valuable composition of the selected ingredients in the nucao bar. For you, this means: no “crash” after snacking on our bars, fewer cravings and more energy because your blood sugar level isn’t riding a rollercoaster. Snacking is not just snacking. With our products you make a good, conscious choice.
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