Please Explain: Sugar

Friday, April 02, 2010

Please Explain is all about sugar—from how it’s grown to how it’s refined to how its metabolized by the body. Elizabeth Abbott, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History, describes how the cultivation of sugar is linked with slavery, the Industrial Revolution, and the fast-food industry. And Dr. Wahida Karmally, Director of Nutrition at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Columbia University, explains how the body processes sugar, how the average amount of sugar Americans consume has greatly increased over the last few decades, and how too much sugar affects our health and waistlines.


Elizabeth Abbott and Dr. Wahida Karmally,

Comments [19]

Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

As a Type 1 diabetic of over 40 years, I have found the use of two sweeteners to help me maintain my blood sugar levels the best: Stevia and (surprisingly enough) Turbinado sugar. The key point is simply not to overindulge. I use these sweeteners usually twice a day: when I have oatmeal for breakfast and when I drink my daily tea. I also eat fruit and Trader Joe's "Joe's Os" (which is only 1 gram of sugar per serving). Really, boys and girls, it's all about moderation.

Apr. 03 2010 09:25 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I can't believe the guests said the expansion of high-sugar diets throughout the world caused an increase in obesity where such diets are new & didn't mention diabetes! They came so close & then dropped the ball. Many population groups that used to eat more natural diets developed high rates of diabetes after switching to Western diets.

Apr. 02 2010 02:08 PM
j.pike from NYC

Why isn't there more information about using AGAVE syrup. It's a wonderful source of 'sugar' or 'sweet taste' and is low on the glycemic index as well. AGAVE can be found in local health food stores and even in some supermarkets.

Apr. 02 2010 02:01 PM
Another from NY

Hey, you didn't take any questions from the web??

Apr. 02 2010 01:59 PM
Kirit Dixit from Ridgewood, NJ

Is Jaggery better than the plain sugar?

Apr. 02 2010 01:57 PM
Ena from Staten Island

Is high fructose corn syrup more harmful to our health than cane sugar?

Apr. 02 2010 01:57 PM
adele from Brooklyn

This question may have already been asked, but what do your guests recommend as a healthy and sustainable alternative sweetener? My husband and I use agave in just about everything, but I wonder whether we should be using something like honey or maple syrup...

Apr. 02 2010 01:56 PM
Kirit Dixit from Ridgewood, NJ

I was curious about the Jaggery - is it a better form of Sugar than the pure one? What is the contecnt of Sucrose?

Apr. 02 2010 01:55 PM
Kathleen from NYC

What about fake sugar?

Apr. 02 2010 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Wait, corn syrup that's not processed to increase its fructose content contains less fructose than sucrose does? Does that make non-high-fructose corn syrup any healthier than cane sugar?

Apr. 02 2010 01:51 PM
mike from Brooklyn

what kind of sugar should, in moderation, diabetics to get the good nutrients

Apr. 02 2010 01:49 PM
PL from BK

Wouldn't making sugar cane more expensive just make companies use more corn syrup to sweeten their foods? Or are you counting corn syrup as sugar?

Apr. 02 2010 01:47 PM
arthur Bohm from New York City

If the price of sugar goes up, manufacturers will just shift back to corn syrup.

Apr. 02 2010 01:47 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I think the guests mentioned date sugar in the context of whether the sugar itself is different. But is it better environmentally than cane sugar, as they said beet sugar is? Is date sugar used much in any part of the world today? I've read it was the main source of "honey" in the ancient Middle East.

Apr. 02 2010 01:44 PM
jeff from washington heights

What about sugar substitutes likes splenda and equal? How does the body process these substances? And what about stevia?

Apr. 02 2010 01:33 PM
Greg B from Nj

There is a growing web controversy about Agave sugar- which is mostly fructose. Now people claim it is metabolically "worse" than high fructose corn syrup. Plus occasionally full of mercury. Urban myth or truth?

Apr. 02 2010 01:26 PM
Maldo from New York City

What happens when you eat sugar and then drink alcohol? I imagine it does quite a number on one's body.

Apr. 02 2010 12:25 PM
desdemona finch from brooklyn

Do Peeps ever harden?

Apr. 02 2010 10:48 AM
George from Bay Ridge

What happens inside our bodies when we consume sugar?

When did humans start consuming sugar?

How was sugar used on early modern and medieval cuisine in Europe?

What role does sugar play in geopolitics?

Apr. 02 2010 12:11 AM

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