Excess Sugar is No Sweet Deal for Your Heart

Too much added sugar can pile on dangerous fat around your heart and in your abdomen, a new study finds.

“When we consume too much sugar, the excess is converted to fat and stored,” said researcher So Yun Yi, a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.

“This fat tissue located around the heart and in the abdomen releases chemicals into the body which can be harmful to health,” Yi said. “Our results support limiting added sugar intake.”

For the study, the researchers looked at long-term consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soft drinks) and foods with added sugar (for example, processed foods) and their association with fat stores around the heart and other organs.

The data was obtained from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, which includes more than 3,000 healthy young American adults.

The findings showed that consuming higher amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages and added sugar over a 20-year period was tied to more fat stored around organs.

The report was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

According to researcher Dr. Lyn Steffen, the new findings “provide more evidence that consuming too much added sugar and sugary drinks is related to a higher amount of fat tissue.” Steffen is an associate professor in the university’s division of epidemiology and community health.

“And we know that fat deposits are connected with higher risks of heart disease and diabetes,” she said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

“Have water instead of sugary drinks and choose healthier snacks over foods rich in added sugar like cakes,” Steffen suggested. “Read food labels to check the amount of added sugar in what you are buying. Look for ingredients like syrups, glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose. Being more aware of hidden sugar will help you cut back.”

Steffen also said that “on top of our individual efforts, governments, food manufacturers, restaurants, schools and workplaces have a role to play in increasing consumer awareness of the sugar content in foods and beverages and offering healthier alternatives.”

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

Molasses

Betty Rook wrote . . . . . . . . .

What is Molasses?

Molasses, also known as black treacle, is a thick syrup which is a by-product of the sugar refining process. Its name originates from the Latin word ‘melaceres’ meaning ‘honey-like’ as it is extremely viscous. Molasses is the result of sugar crystallizing out of sugarcane or sugar beet juice during the clarification stage of sugar refining. It is extremely diverse and is used primarily for sweetening and flavouring food products, home baking, brewing ale, distilling rum, animal feed, flavouring tobacco products and as a defining component of commercial brown sugar.

History

The crystallization process required to produce molasses from sugarcane was first developed in India as early as 500 BC. However, it was not until much later that this process began to spread to the rest of the world. Arab invaders eventually brought the process from India to Spain in the Middle Ages, however the global diffusion of the process was really down to Christopher Columbus. After landing in the Canary Islands in 1493, he brought sugarcane to the West Indies where the production of molasses proved to be very lucrative.

Molasses grew to be extremely prominent during the late seventeenth century in the notoriously tragic slave trade triangles and was referred to as the ‘Colonial molasses trade’. African slave traders who brought their slaves to the West Indies often used to buy English rum and then take West Indian molasses to England. In the eighteenth century, sugar-refining produced a much higher molasses to sugar ratio than it does today, with an estimation of production being three parts molasses to four parts sugar. This molasses was primarily used for producing rum.

The trading of Molasses was unrestrained when it first began except for small local taxes. American colonies began to prefer French molasses over British because their policy provided much cheaper prices which Britain could not compete with. As a result, the Great British Parliament made the decision to impose high taxes on any molasses that was shipped from a foreign power to North American colonies. This ‘Molasses Act of 1733’ imposed a six pence fee per gallon on foreign molasses with the intention that the colonies would have to buy British molasses or stop producing rum. Instead however, the colonies ignored the new Molasses Act and thought it would be better to smuggle molasses from the West Indies rather than to comply with the prohibitive taxes. The illicit smuggling of molasses continued for many decades and had it not been for these illegal operations, the New England rum production would have undoubtedly been destroyed.

Manufacturing Process

The primary ingredients for the sugar process of which molasses is a by-product are sugarcane and sugar beet. Other raw materials used in the process include limewater and carbon dioxide. Limewater, also known as ‘milk from lime’, is used in the sugar clarification process and is produced by heating limestone in a kiln. The limestone then gets mixed with sweet water from a previous clarification process to produce limewater. Carbon dioxide is released in this limewater process, it is purified in tanks and also used in the clarification of the sugar juice.

Regardless of whether the base is sugarcane or sugar beet, the sugar refining process of which molasses is a by-product is a cyclical process of washing and heating the cane or beets in hot water. The next step is the extraction of the sugar juice which for sugarcane can be accomplished in one of two ways: diffusion or milling. Using the diffusion method means that the cut stalks are dissolved in limewater whereas in the milling method, the stalks are passed under a series of heavy rollers in order to squeeze out the juice. For sugar beet, the sliced beet roots are loaded into cylinder diffusers which then wash out the juice with the help of hot water.

Clarifying the sugar juice is the next step in the process and it is at this stage in which molasses is produced. The juice, once clarified with limewater and carbon dioxide, is piped into a decanter, heated with lime and passed through carbon filters which results in a mud-like substance known as ‘carb juice’. The carb juice is then pumped through a heater to a clarifying machine which repeats the treating process with carbon dioxide. The carb juice is filtered out and leaves behind a pale-yellow liquid called thin juice, as mentioned previously in the sugar series. The juice is boiled to the point that only syrup remains, which is then concentrated through further vacuum boiling until sugar crystalizes out of the syrup creating a substance called ‘massecuite’. Massecuite is poured into a centrifuge which separates the sugar crystals from the syrup. Finally, this syrup left behind in the centrifuge is molasses!

Benefits

As sugar is so often used in food and drink products which are generally deemed ‘unhealthy’, it may come as a surprise that commercial molasses in fact has multiple health benefits. Molasses is packed with nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium and vitamin B6. These nutrients mean that molasses has many beneficial properties. For example, molasses promotes good bone and tissue health because it’s rich in calcium and iron and research shows that it can even help with arthritis. Molasses is also a good antioxidant therefore can increase red blood cell formation and maintain haemoglobin levels – it is often used in the preparation of anti-inflammatory medication. The antioxidants found in molasses can even help your hair as an anti-ageing conditioner.

Source: Czarnikow

The First Fall of World Sugar Consumption in 40 Years

Source: Czarnikow

Missing an Ingredient? Here’s What You Can Use Instead

Alexa Weibel wrote . . . . . . . . .

The most important skill in the kitchen — and, arguably, life — is adaptability. The list below, which is by no means comprehensive, is meant to help you replace ingredients with confidence. Every alternative listed may not work in every case, especially when it comes to baking, but if you consider the ingredient’s texture, flavor and cook time, and make decisions according to taste, you’ll greatly expand your options — and you may even end up with a dish you like better than the original.

Dairy

Flavor and texture are important considerations when substituting dairy products. When working with liquids, you can doctor consistency easily, thickening milk with a little flour or cornstarch to mimic half-and-half, or thinning out Greek yogurt with water to replicate milk.

The ingredients below are ordered from thinnest to firmest; if you don’t have the desired substitute for a specific item, feel free to move up or down the list.

Milk:

Half-and-half or heavy cream thinned with water, evaporated milk, light coconut milk, light cream, oat milk, nut milk, soy milk.

Half-and-half:

Thicken milk with a little cornstarch or flour (about 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid) or thin heavy cream with a splash of water.

Heavy cream:

For 1 cup heavy cream, substitute 3/4 cup milk plus 1/4 cup melted butter (for richness), or simply thicken 1 cup milk with 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch or even flour. (Whisk the milk into the dried ingredient little by little.) Other options include coconut milk or coconut cream (beware of increased sweetness), or even softened cream cheese whisked with a little water. Be aware that you won’t be able to beat alternatives into fluffy whipped cream.

Buttermilk:

For 1 cup buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or light vinegar, such as white vinegar, white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar) to a measuring cup and add enough milk to reach 1 cup. Alternately, thin one part yogurt, sour cream or other creamy dairy product with one part milk, or thin two parts yogurt or other creamy dairy product with one part water.

Butter:

If using the butter to conduct heat, as in pan-frying, you could use olive oil or other fats. (See Oils and Fats category below.) For flavor substitutions — like stirring butter into risotto or polenta to add richness — a number of creamy options like heavy cream or mascarpone will achieve similar results.

Creamy dairy products:

Tangy, textural ingredients like crema, crème fraîche, mascarpone, Neufchâtel, Quark, queso fresco, sour cream or yogurt of any variety can be used interchangeably.

Cheese:

The cheese world is so vast that it’s impossible to cover the entire range. When substituting cheeses, think about its purpose: Will your cheese melt evenly in a creamy pasta sauce, or spread easily on toast? If you’re cooking the cheese, you might want to substitute a cheese with a similar texture, but if the cheese is used as an accent, you’ve got much more flexibility. Most widely available cheeses (predominantly cow’s milk) can be broken down into the following broad categories:

  • Fresh, unripened cheese (soft and wet): Cottage cheese, cream cheese, fromage blanc, ricotta cheese.
  • Soft-ripened cheese (creamy): Brie, Camembert, Pont l’Evêque, taleggio.
  • Semifirm or semisoft cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Edam, fontina, Gouda, Havarti, Jarlsberg, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Muenster, pepper Jack, Port-Salut, Swiss cheese.
  • Hard aged cheeses: Asiago, Comté, Gruyère, Manchego, Parmesan, pecorino.

Oils and Fats

Oils and fats each have a smoke point, which is the temperature at which the oil or fat begins to burn: Neutral oils with high smoke points won’t burn when exposed to high temperatures (as in deep-frying or pan-frying), whereas butter and other solid fats (with low smoke points) burn easily.

We’ve grouped oils and fats into three categories, bearing in mind flavor and smoke point. While many of these ingredients in the following categories are interchangeable, you’ll want to base your selection on those criteria.

Neutral oils (high smoke point): Canola oil, coconut oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil.

Flavored oils (medium or high smoke point): Avocado oil, nut oils, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil.

Solid fats (low smoke point): Bacon fat, butter, chicken fat, lard, margarine, vegetable shortening. Solid when refrigerated but liquid when hot, ghee (clarified butter) has a very high smoke point similar to neutral oils.

Stock

Though stock improves flavor, its primary purpose is to add liquid. If the recipe calls for a little stock, you can substitute water. If the recipe calls for a lot of stock, use water seasoned with one of the ingredients below, keeping the flavors of your recipe in mind. Start small and taste as you go, especially since some items skew significantly sweet, salty or condensed.

Stock substitutes:

Water seasoned with beer or white wine, juice (such as orange juice or apple juice), melted butter, milk (dairy, coconut, nut or soy milk), miso paste, mushroom stock (liquid from soaked dried mushrooms), olive oil, soy sauce, tea.

Produce

Greens

Most greens can be defined by their flavor and texture: Are they bitter or mild? Sturdy or tender? When choosing a substitute, consider how the greens are being used. Tender greens are often consumed raw while sturdy ones might need to be cooked longer; simply add the greens earlier or later in the cooking process as needed.

Mild and tender: Chard, lettuce, mâche, mesclun, spinach, tatsoi.

Mild and firm: Bok choy, cabbage, collard greens.

Bitter and tender: Arugula, endive, frisée, mizuna, radicchio, radish greens, watercress.

Bitter and firm: Escarole, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens.

Vegetables

Substituting vegetables in a recipe can be tricky, and depends largely on personal taste. But some can definitely step in for others: say brussels sprouts for broccoli. You’ll just want to bear in mind texture, moisture content and density. We’ve broken common vegetables up into two categories, based on cook times: Many in the same category cook at a similar rate, but if you’d like to substitute a firm vegetable for a quick-cooking one or vice versa, simply increase or decrease the cook time by adding the ingredient earlier or later in your recipe.

Quick-cooking: Asparagus, cabbage (bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale), celery, corn, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms, peas, peppers, summer squash, zucchini.

Firm: Root vegetables (beet, carrot, celery root, parsnip, potato, sweet potato, turnip), winter squash (such as butternut squash, delicata, kabocha, pumpkin).

Alliums

Because of garlic’s pronounced flavor, it’s difficult to find an exact substitute, but leeks, onions (red, white or yellow), scallions, shallots and spring onions are largely interchangeable. Garlic and onions are available in dried form (powdered, granulated or dehydrated as flakes), which are infinitely more potent — and can skew bitter if overused. Substitute dried ingredients in place of fresh with moderation, and only when the fresh is called for in smaller quantities rather than bulk.

Herbs

Fresh herbs fall into two categories: tender, bright herbs (basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon), which are typically at their most flavorful when fresh, or woody, savory herbs (bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme), which better retain their essential oils when dried. Since dried herbs are more potent than fresh, you’ll want to use less: Substitute one teaspoon dried herbs for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs. In general, you can substitute one tender herb for another, or one woody herb for another, but substituting a woody herb for a tender herb (and vice versa) works less frequently. Rely on personal preference, availability and the other ingredients you’re cooking with to pick an appropriate substitute.

Basil: Chervil, cilantro, dill, Italian seasoning, oregano, mint, parsley.

Bay leaves: Herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Chervil: Basil, dill, parsley, tarragon.

Chives: Cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley.

Cilantro: Basil, chives, parsley, mint.

Dill: Basil, chervil, mint, parsley.

Marjoram: Herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Mint: Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley.

Oregano: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, rosemary, thyme, sage.

Parsley: Basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, Italian seasoning, mint, tarragon.

Rosemary: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, oregano, thyme, sage.

Sage: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, thyme.

Tarragon: Chervil, parsley.

Thyme: Bay leaves, herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, sage.

Spices

When substituting spices, think about what will work in your dish. Most spices can be grouped into four flavor profiles — earthy, floral, peppery and warm. You’ll often be able to substitute a spice that hits the same notes by picking one with the same qualities.

Earthy: Curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, Vadouvan, za’atar.

Floral: Cardamom, coriander, fennel, lavender, nutmeg, saffron, star anise.

Peppery: Allspice, ground ginger, peppercorns, mustard powder, sumac.

Warm: Cinnamon, chile (dried), chili powder (blend), cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika.

When it comes to spice, there is ample room for experimentation. Consider layering flavor carefully by seasoning lightly at the start of cooking so the end result is subtle, that way you can increase the spice to taste, if desired, once your dish is fully cooked.

Allspice: Combine cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, or use any one of the three.

Cardamom: Coriander, fennel, ginger, lavender.

Cayenne: Aleppo pepper, chili powder, dried chiles, hot sauce, paprika, red-pepper flakes, sumac.

Chili powder: Combine paprika (sweet, hot or smoked), onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne or red-pepper flakes; or use another warm spice, such as cayenne, cloves, cumin, nutmeg or paprika (sweet, hot or smoked).

Cinnamon: Allspice, apple pie spice blend, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice blend.

Cloves: Allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper.

Coriander: Cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, saffron, turmeric.

Cumin: Chili powder, coriander, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric.

Curry powder: Combine coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper; or substitute allspice, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garam masala, or turmeric.

Ginger: Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander.

Nutmeg: Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger.

Paprika: Cayenne, chili powder, curry powder, black pepper.

Turmeric: Curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Vadouvan, za’atar.

Meat and Seafood

While many home cooks plan meals around a protein, even that’s flexible. Make protein substitutions according to preference and what you have on hand, and shift cook times accordingly, adding longer-cooking meats, like beef chuck, earlier or quick-cooking seafood later within the recipe. You can also adjust the size of the protein by cutting it into smaller pieces (or remove the meat from the bones) so it cooks faster, or leaving it in larger pieces so it cooks at a slower rate. Thinking broadly can expand your options even further: Tofu, lentils, beans and other vegetarian options can make excellent textural substitutes.

Beef:

If swapping one cut of beef for another, try to substitute tough cuts (like chuck, brisket or round roast) for other tough cuts, and tender cuts (like strip steak, flank steak or filet mignon) for other quick-cooking cuts. You can also use lamb in place of beef in many recipes, though its flavor is more assertive.

Ground meat or fresh sausage:

Both can be used interchangeably. You can remove sausages from their casings, and cook them as ground meat, or flavor plain ground meat with red-pepper flakes, fennel seed, Italian herbs and other seasonings. You can also substitute ground meat of any kind, swapping in ground pork for ground beef in meatballs, or ground chicken for ground turkey in a larb, for example. But bear in mind the fat content of whatever you’re using: Ground pork is the fattier option; if cooking with ground beef, chicken, turkey or veal, you might want to add extra oil to provide extra fat.

Pork:

Bone-in pork chops cook in roughly the same time as steaks of similar thickness, but you will want to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature to achieve desired doneness. If working with diced pork stew meat, cubed beef stew meats will cook at a similar rate. Cubed chicken will also work, but you’ll need to reduce cooking times.

Chicken:

You can substitute whole boneless, skinless breasts for boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Just butterfly the breasts or pound them thinly to achieve a similar thickness of thighs. (You may also need to adjust cook time.) If substituting bone-in, skin-on thighs, increase the cook time. Ground turkey or turkey breasts also achieve similar results as their chicken counterparts.

Fish fillets:

Most fish fillets are either lean (bass, catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, monkfish, red snapper, skate, sole, tilapia) or fatty (char, mahi-mahi, salmon, swordfish, tuna). Substitute lean for lean, and fatty for fatty.

Shrimp or scallops:

Fresh or frozen, both cook very quickly at similar rates and benefit from quick, high-heat cooking methods. Depending on your recipe, fish fillets or small pieces of meat or poultry also might be suitable substitutes.

Source: The New York Times

New Sugar Substitute Made from Food Waste

Kristin Toussaint wrote . . . . . . . . .

As more and more companies look to curb food waste, fruit scraps and ugly pieces of produce that once went into the compost bin or trash can are finding second lives. Juice pulp has been turned into popsicles, wonky veggies into soups, and now Dutch company Fooditive is turning leftovers from apples and pears, along with the pieces of fruit that are unfit for supermarkets, into a chemical-free sweetener.

Current sugar substitutes are considered a growing environmental hazard; artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame, found in Splenda and Equal, aren’t absorbed by our bodies nor are completely removed by wastewater treatment plants, meaning these sweeteners end up in rivers and oceans, potentially harming aquatic plant and animal life.

Regular cane sugar is the cause of global health problems, and its cultivation is taking an environmental toll, too, requiring intense water use and causing soil erosion and pollution from processing sugarcane. Natural sweeteners like honey have their own complications. Stevia, the natural sweetener derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, is known to have a bitter aftertaste, so beverage companies that use stevia often mix it with other artificial sweeteners.

Fooditive, founded by food scientist Moayad Abushokhedim, aims to be a natural alternative to those other sweetener options in a way that’s healthy for the planet and our own bodies. Fooditive takes third-grade apples and pears—those ones with brown spots or off colors, which wouldn’t be sold in a supermarket—from local Dutch farmers, along with some fruit scraps, and extracts the natural fructose through a fermentation process. The final result is a calorie-free sweetener without many of the concerns of both sugar and other sugar substitutes.

Beyond the sweetener, Fooditive also makes all-natural preserving agents for things like sauces, soups, and bakery items out of carrot waste, thickening agents from banana skins, and emulsifiers from potato extracts. The company is collaborating with Rotterdam Circulair, a Netherlands company focused on reusing and recycling waste, with the goal of establishing a circular economy in the city of Rotterdam by 2030.

“Our products really provide the food and beverage producers with the ability to have a clean label, a green label, and show people what’s in their food,” says Geiles. Right now, the company is working in the business-to-business market, partnering with a third-party food industry company called Bodec to get its sustainable sweetener into Dutch products. Geiles says it’s already being used by a Dutch beverage company, though he couldn’t name specific brands.

Fooditive is also registered in Sweden, and next Geiles says the company hopes to expand to other Nordic countries, Jordan (where founder Abushokhedim is from), and the United Kingdom. U.S. food regulations make the move stateside a bit difficult, but Geiles says they’re hoping to bring their sustainable products here as well.

Source: Fast Company