Sweeten it up

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New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) What is the one thing in the world that can unify the Indians? It’s sugar, honey! Yes in a country like ours which is full of diverse cultures, food is the one thing that binds us together.
And the key ingredient is something sweet. Sugar literally is an essential part of any celebration in India, in the form of sweets during festivals, religious occasions, birth announcements, etc. Our day literally comprises of sugar as we begin the day with cereals and end our day with dessert.
Calories? Really, when it comes to sugar, they don’t count. You see even the most enthusiastic of fitness freaks, binge and indulge in sugar. Instant weight loss, fad diets and gym workouts makes it easier to shed those calories. However, in the long run, the quantity of sugar you intake daily still plays an important role towards adding those extra calories.
As per a recent survey conducted on over 1,100 homemakers at a mall in Mumbai, 60 percent found the idea of living without sugar uncomfortable. Additionally, 75 percent of the participants were aware of the negative effects of sugar and calorie gains. Despite being cognizant of the consequences of consuming too many calories from sugar, Indian households find it extremely difficult to detach themselves from this ingredient. This is why it is extremely important to switch from a regular sugar to a healthier sugar that not only fulfils the sweetness criteria but simultaneously also cuts down the calorie intake.
61 percent of the respondents fell in the age group of 20-40 years, where close to 40 percent did not pay attention to the calories gained from sugar in the food/drinks they consume on a daily basis. This bracket of age group is the most health conscious and yet the most oblivious on how to improve their lifestyle effectively.
One of the interesting findings that came out of the study was that 55 percent of the survey takers opted to cut-down their sugar intake by switching to healthier sugars as opposed to switching to a harsh diet or working out in the gym as it was the most convenient way to cut down one’s calorie-intake without having to put in too much effort or bring about a major lifestyle change. One teaspoon of sugar can contribute to 16 calories.
From a recent study by the National Cancer Institute of America, an average man consumes 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day which equals to approximately 400 calories from sugar alone. At such times, it is critical to look at healthier sugar that cuts down the calories by half and yet provides the same sweetness.
Renowned nutritionist Ishi Khosla stated, “With sedentary lifestyle and growing urbanization, food management is extremely important. Sugar is a key ingredient and has a special place in Indian households. There is nothing wrong with indulging in sweets but one must do so in a smart way. There are healthier options including, low-calorie sugars available in the market that offer half the calories than regular sugar. This is one way one can manage calorie intake without having to give up on sweets and also manage healthy lifestyle.”
The main intake of added sugar among metro cities of India, measured in grams per day, is the highest in Mumbai according to a survey taken by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad. These findings implicate that though it is practically impossible to eliminate sugar out of your life, it is important to switch to a healthier/ low-calorie sugar that offers less calories compared to regular sugar and yet fulfills the sweetness criteria.