Being Happy With Sugar - The Atlantic
Geege Schuman stashed this in Nutrition
In his recent retraction of these endorsements, Oz offered the explanation, “It turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup.” Fructose is the sweetest naturally-occurring carbohydrate, so that’s why agave syrup is sweeter-per-volume than competitors.
By that time, other health-media giants had also withdrawn from agave-lauding. “I've stopped using agave myself and no longer recommend it as a healthy sweetener,” Dr. Andrew Weil wrote in a 2012 blog post. His explanation was strikingly similar to Oz’s: “As it turns out, agave has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup.”
So even a few years ago health nuts were pushing agave? NOT GOOD.
Agave is a plant, but the syrup we make from it is like any sweetener, a mixture of fructose and glucose. After growing for around seven years, a mature blue agave plant sprouts a pyramidal flower that dangles up to twenty feet in the air, where it can be pollinated by bats. The succulent is a relative of yucca, and it was used by people as far back as the Aztec empire. William H. Prescott described agave’s many uses in 1843’s The History and Conquest of Mexico, “The agave, in short, was meat, drink, clothing, and writing materials for the Aztec!” Today in factories the blue agave plant is crushed and its aguamiel (honey water) collected. The natural plant fiber inulin is processed into fructose and glucose using thermal hydrolysis, which involves quickly heating the juice to a high temperature and then cooling it. (In the case of agave that is sold as “raw,” the hydrolysis happens at a lower temperature for a much longer time.) The process yields a product amber in color, with a consistency like maple syrup and flavor like honey, only more delicate. Despite the processing it undergoes, the plant origins made agave popular as a sweetener in “natural” and “wholesome” nutrition bars, sugary drinks, and other foods.
What turned the media against agave was the recent demonization of fructose.
In a 2010 article headlined, “Shocking! This ‘Tequila’ Sweetener Agave Is Far Worse Than High-Fructose Corn Syrup”—which has been viewed online more than half a million times—the quixotic Dr. Joseph Mercola, proprietor of a “natural health” website that claims to reach millions of readers daily, wrote, “In case you haven't noticed, we have an epidemic of obesity in the U.S. and it wasn't until recently that my eyes opened up to the primary cause: fructose.”
“Excessive fructose consumption deranges liver function and promotes obesity,” Weil declared en blog in his recantation. “The less fructose you consume, the better.”
“Initially, we thought moderate amounts of fructose weren’t unhealthy, but now we know better,” Oz corroborated earlier this year.
“My own case against high-fructose corn syrup is that what little flavor it has is strangely violent: drinks sweetened with corn syrup taste like only their usually artificial flavorings, and the effect is a clobbering sweetness, as if someone had come up behind you, held your nose, and poured syrup down your throat.
On an even larger platform, Dr. Sanjay Gupta said in a grave voice on 60 Minutes, “New research, coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions, is starting to find that sugar, the way many people are eating it today, is a toxin.” Gupta shot straight into the heart of the fructose story to talk with Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics at UCSF whose viral anti-fructose 2009 lecture is credited with the popularization of the idea. Lustig used the terms “toxin” and “poison” 13 times in the 90-minute lecture, which now has 4.5 million views on YouTube.
“Do you ever worry that just sounds a little bit, over the top?” Gupta asked Lustig, of the claim that fructose is toxic.
“Sure, all the time. But it’s the truth.”
Really, sugar is toxic:
(this is the sort of post that reminds me why i love you both.)
really, this whole thing is such a mess! it's so hard to find food that is actually food these days.
I'll be your Auntie Geege, Emily!
Thanks to these two articles on the insidious and toxic nature of sugar and all its pretenders, I have started taking my coffee black. All the joy has gone out of my life....
I think that all that's needed is a slight shift in thinking.
Instead of sweetness in everything, we move to only having sweetness occasionally.
That way instead of being the expectation, it is special.
Instead of being in a heightened state all the time, we appreciate sweetness when we do have it:
auntie geege! black coffee??!?! noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!
i agree with adam, though: little bits here and there is the answer, it just can't be in everything. moderation is so difficult when you're not the one moderating. but if we really are choosing our foods, and every part of them, we can get it right.
i think you ought to put sugar back in your coffee. in fact, i don't even do coffee, just three bites of coffee ice-cream here and there!! ahhh... sweet haagen dazs!
p.s.-- LOVE the colored ants, adam!!
Yeah, the colored ants are great!
Choosing our foods is key. Be mindful of every bite or sip.