A - Z Blogging Challenge - Superfoods vs Sugar

Welcome back to A - Z, we're already at S!

S is for sleep (get plenty), stress (try to reduce), smoking (it's a no-no), sweets (I'm not saying anything. I know that you know...), and much more!

I'd like to start with superfoods.

It is a controversial term because it implies that the particular food is not only nutrient-rich but is even supposed to prevent or combat certain medical conditions.

Photo Source

Sceptics critizise that there is no real proof that those foods are really that superior and powerful, and they claim the term "superfood" is misleading consumers. In Europe it's even forbidden to use it for marketing purposes.

Now I think that's a bit hypocritical. 

Just look at many, many processed food items out there that imply how good they are for you, and while they're not - because they contain lots of sugar and fat - companies are allowed to market them on and on.

Think granola bars, cereal, hazelnut spread, fruit punch, milkshakes, heck, even Coca-Cola makes you think it's actually a sports beverage!

So whether you just want to do something good for your body or you are sick and hope "even if it won't help, at least it won't do any harm", go for the strawberries rather than the french fries. Makes sense, no?

And don't get me started on misleading advertising in general. Winkle cream? Slimming drinks and deodorants that attract pretty girls? Do they have to prove that their products actually work wonders?

The only thing that bugs me - not specifically about "superfoods" but fruit and veggies in general - is that we can't really know if they're as healthy as we think. As long as you don't grow them yourself you don't know all that much about the sowing, fertilizing, harvesting, transporting and storing practices that were being applied. 

Here's an example:

Did you know that the apples you buy at your supermarket may be anything but fresh? It is common (and legal) practice to keep them in cold storage warehouses for a year or longer. 

They are picked slightly unripe and treated with a chemical synthetic plant growth regulator called methylcyclopropene
Obviously it is supposed to be harmless. However the nutrients that the apples originally contained are fading over time. 

You keep hearing about antioxidants that help prevent free radical cell damage which usually occurs in cancer. 

So what if blueberries - that are considered some of the most fabulous antioxidant sources - spend a long time in cold storage and have almost no antioxidants left? There goes your superfood. Booo!

So what can you do?

  • Buy from your trusted local farmer
  • Consume what is in season - which is increasingly tough to know because these days everything is available to us pretty much all year round. Here's a link.
  • Consider taking Juice Plus, I talked about it here
I wanted to talk about organic produce, but to be honest I'm not sure what to believe. 

The labels and the leaflets do sound awfully nice and sustainable, and I do purchase a lot of organic products like milk and meat from (formerly) happy cows, eggs from cheerful, outdoorsy hens, veggies and fruit - as long as they look nice. 

I know, it's irrational!

Once upon a time, when Colin just started to eat solids, I shopped at a die-hard organic store. I wanted him to get the best mashed carrots and potatoes. The ones I bought were super dirty and looked ugly. I spent an hour washing and peeling them. Too much trouble for this exhausted Mama! The next time she went back to the organic veggies aisle at the 

In the tree huggers' defence: obviously the dirt is a natural preservative!

On to the sugars

Photo Credit

Are you aware of your daily sugar intake? 

There are the obvious, refined sugars like granulated or powdered ones, fructose (contained in honey, fruit (especially figs, cherries, grapes and mangoes), berries and veggies, as healthy as they are otherwise), lactose (in your dairy products) and then there are the hidden ones!

They are everywhere, even in products you wouldn't expect them: Chinese takeout, pasta sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup, salad dressing, granola bars, even most plain greek yogurts! 

The label doesn't necessarily mention "sugar", it may say:

Source: Women's Health Magazine

How much is the recommended daily sugar intake anyway? (6 teaspoons? That feels like nothing! If you're into baking you know that every cake recipe calls for 1 or 1.5 cups of sugar.) 

Source: American Heart Association

Added sugars = any sugars or sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation.

How about those low sugar, less sugar or sugar-free products? They must be safe, right? Not necessarily. Here's what I found out:
  • No added sugar = no sugar or sugar-containing ingredient such as juice or dry fruit is added during processing
  • Sugar-free = there is less than 0.5g of sugar per serving
  • Low Sugar = not defined or allowed as a claim on food labels
  • Less sugar = at least 25% less sugars per serving compared to a standard serving size of the traditional variety
Enough said. We need to try and limit our sugar intake, at least cut the added sugar!

I have come to realise that just like any other addiction, you have to go through sugar withdrawal symptoms. The first few days I was irritable and grumpy. 

Now? During hockey playoff season we used to eat a chocolate candy every time our team scored. This season they made it to the finals (that's a lot of goals!), and I had zero sweets. In fact I brushed my teeth right after dinner, and it didn't even bother me that hubby & son were munching on their chocolate Easter eggs. I was secretly applauding myself for saving those calories!!

Here's an article taking you through the necessary steps in order to limit / quit your sugar consumption. 

Before I'm done I also wanted to say a word or two about salads.

What's there to talk about? Salads are good, full stop!?

They are. There's just a pitfall: the dressing, the croutons and the cheese. While they're yummy, they're definitely thwarting your calorie budget plans. Especially if you're like me and love your Chipotle Southwest!!


Yogurt Dressing it is!!!

That was a lot to take in. Thank you for hanging in there - you deserve a snack! If you're looking for inspiration, here's an article with lots of suggestions on snacks with 100 calories. As for me I think I'll go back to A is for Avocado Brownie!

Now I'm curious: Are you a sugar addict? What's your favourite salad, and do you believe in superfoods? Let me know in comments down below and please come back tomorrow for T is for Time.

Until then there are tons of cool letter S posts for you to check out!