What exactly is sugar?
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate naturally found in fruits, vegetables, milk and other foods.
The truth is, our bodies need sugar. (Keep reading before you go eating table sugar by the spoonful!)
Sugar fuels the body, the brain, and just about everything. Granted it is possible to function with extremely little sugar, but it’s very challenging and not a perfect solution – I’m looking at you Keto diet. But that doesn’t mean we need to eat sugar to get sugar. Our bodies can break it down from other carbohydrates like grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Our liver can also produce sugar on its own!
The Added Foe
Natural sugar is a type of sugar that is consumed from whole foods, like those found in fruit, vegetables and milk.
We don’t have to worry about naturally-occurring sugars because we eat them alongside fiber and protein—which help slow digestion and can reduce blood sugar levels—and vitamins and minerals which give us other good benefits.
It’s the ADDED sugars that pose a threat!
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugar you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day—about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day—about 9 teaspoons. The AHA recommendations focus on all added sugars. The average American consumes ~22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Woah, that’s a lot.
Unnecessary added sugars, with negative impacts
- Sugar consumption can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases
- It contains no nutritional benefits, just added calories that can contribute to obesity
- Sugar is often found in highly processed food-like substances, like sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts and candies. As well as MANY other foods including ketchup and salad dressing!
- Choosing more whole foods can help reduce the amount of added sugar you consume.
So does this mean no more dessert? Since it often contains added sugar?
Don’t fret—Healthier desserts exist!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good dessert. Even those sugar-filled ones can be enjoyed every once in a while.
But for a dessert that’s okay to have more often, aim for one built with nourishing ingredients like fruit! Utilize the natural sugars found in fruit to please your sweet tooth AND keep it healthy at the same time!
Our wine-poached pears with honey-vanilla mascarpone are an elegant dessert filled with flavor. And it won’t break your added sugar bank!Print
These spiced and wine poached pears are an elegant, warm dessert made even more tasty with a dollop of honey-vanilla mascarpone. Beautiful, healthy and delicious!
- 4 ripe pears, bosc or anjou, peeled
- 1/2 bottle red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cardamom pods (or a pinch of ground cardamom)
- 4 whole cloves (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves)
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 1 tablespoon honey (ideally raw, local honey)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add pears, wine, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, cloves and lemon to a medium pot. Bring to a gentle boil (don’t let it boil rapidly!) and let simmer ~40-45 minutes or until pears are soft.
- While pears are poaching, use a whisk to whip mascarpone, honey and vanilla until combined.
- Serve pears with a drizzle of wine (or a glass of the mulled wine!) and a dollop of honey-vanilla mascarpone. Enjoy!