Updated on 05/10/2022, 21:00
Sugar is in many foods. Because nature thought it was a good idea, but mostly because the food industry thought it was a good idea. In the third part of his “Kompass” series, TV chef Nelson Müller goes looking for sugar on Tuesday evening and explains how you can live well despite and with sugar.
Sucrose, glucose, fructose, isoglucose, mannose, melezitose, maltose, lactose, raffinose, rhamnose, trehalose – sugar, as chemists know, has many names. And it comes in many forms: in fruit, alcohol or bread, as sugar cubes or rock candy, in ketchup or ready-made pizza. You have to look very carefully if you want to avoid sugar in your diet. Nelson Müller would like to find a few ways in the sugar jungle so that people can eat well with sucrose and co.
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“I’ll give you orientation in my ‘sugar compass’. I’ll show you why we just can’t keep our hands off sugar. How the industry takes advantage of this and why sugar is still important for all of us,” says Nelson Müller, setting his goal .
How does Nelson Mueller do that?
In very different ways. In the film by Teresa Lonnemann, Müller visits a praline boutique in Brussels and sees how pralines are made. There, pastry chef Jean Paul Fournier explains the functions of sugar. In Essen, Müller is doing a quiz to show the candidates how much sugar is actually in which drink.
With one of the leading sugar producers in Germany, Müller can be explained why sugar is so cheap and with a sugar beet farmer what consequences this has for him. An ecotoxicologist explains the dire consequences of the use of pesticides in sugar beet cultivation for flora and fauna – and ultimately also for humans.
With a “test family” Müller shows the tricks the food industry uses to tempt sugar consumption, an expert from Foodwatch explains the background. In the Netherlands, Müller visits a company that produces low-sugar ice cream. These thematic blocks are enriched with additional information by the off-speaker.
What is the information from the broadcast?
- 70% of all processed foods we can buy in the supermarket contain added sugar.
- In detail: There are 40 sugar cubes in a pack of muesli, 3 in a glass of pesto, 7 in a fruit yoghurt and even 11 in a ready-made pizza. Sugar isn’t just found in sweets.
- Why we eat sugar: The sweetness signals to the body that it is getting energy here; Humans have learned that bitter foods are often dangerous, while sweet foods are mostly non-toxic; Sugar activates the reward system in the human brain, which then releases endorphins.
- These are all reasons why it is so difficult to stop snacking.
- Since the late 1960s, sugar consumption has increased to the point where it poses a problem for our health.
- We currently consume 100 grams of sugar per day, but only 50 grams is recommended.
- This is also due to the fact that sugar is also found in foods in which we do not expect it: “It is always easy to say: consumers can decide for themselves what they eat. But that is only partially the case, because if I I have a huge range of finished products in the supermarket and they all have a particularly high sugar content, then I can’t really determine it myself,” explains Britta Schautz from the Berlin consumer advice center.
- Beverages often contain an enormous amount of sugar, while fruit juices wrongly have a good image: for example, per 100 grams multivitamin juice contains 10.8g sugar, grape juice 19g, rhubarb nectar 10g, cola 9.7g and orange soda 7.6g.
- Up to 20 percent sugar may be added to nectar.
- There are three reasons for adding sugar: 1. Sugar is a “flavor enhancer”, 2. Sugar makes food last longer and 3. “Sugar is just incredibly cheap”.
- A bag of gummy bears or a bar of milk chocolate consists of about 50 percent sugar.
- The world market price, which German producers also use as a guide, continues to fall. The producers pass the price pressure on to the farmers, with consequences for the farmers and the environment.
- Because in order to increase the yield, pesticides that had already been banned were allowed to be used again. “It is illusory to believe that if the harmful organisms are killed across the board, over hundreds of meters, then three meters further, i.e. in the shoulder strips, in the water bodies and the like, that there is no pesticide contamination there,” explains ecotoxicologist Prof .Matthias Liess.
- Pesticides also get into other bodies of water, such as rivers, where they damage aquatic life – “even at low concentrations”.
- The food industry uses tricks to encourage the consumption of sugar. The sugary products are marketed as if they were recommendable meals. At the same time, popular cartoon characters are used to advertise at children’s eye level.
- The problem: Sugar consumption in childhood shapes taste experiences and lays the foundation for lifelong sugar consumption – with possible health consequences such as tooth decay or diabetes.
- Diet or zero products with sweeteners are not a good alternative as they do not give the brain a feeling of satiety.
- It would be better to make and eat less sweet foods to get used to a less sweet taste.
- Sweeteners must not be used at all in organic foods.
- Consumers should not be fooled by the names of the ingredients, but should always look at the product’s nutritional information table to see the actual total sugar content.
- Tip: It is best to eat fruit in its natural state and not as a smoothie or juice. This means that the blood sugar level falls more slowly and fiber is retained. So eat fruit, don’t drink fruit.
After the “fat compass” and the “protein compass”, Nelson Müller again shows basic information in his “sugar compass”, this time on the subject of sugar. On the other hand, he broadens his view of the consequences of sugar consumption, which initially have nothing to do with nutrition, such as the consequences for the environment. And thirdly, Müller has practical tips on how life with sugar can be more successful.
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