Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sugar in Food Q & A: a look at energy bars past & present

The following is my response to a clients email from several years ago, so it is older information in regard to sugar content in this Odwalla Bar. Im leaving it as is vs. updating it because there is important information to understand about ingredients and natural sugars and how fruit plays a roll in sugar intake. If you dont already know, I hope you can see how important it is to be aware what youre putting in your body—especially if you have sugar sensitivities. Later I will write about bars that are on the market and available now: to be continued.

Odwalla was purchased by Coca-Cola in 2001 and the Odwalla brand will cease to exist after August 2020. At the time of the following email, this particular Odwalla Bar had 25 grams of sugar; then it went down to 10g. Ten grams is a much more reasonable amount for one bar. The American Heart Association generally recommends 25 grams of added sugar a day for women, 37 for men. Still, to me, 10g is a lot for just eating an energy bar, however I have done just that on many hikes and biking trips, so these certainly do have a place in your diet if you can’t get a regular meal in.

I know you say refined sugars are bad for the skin, but what about natural sugars found in fruits? I found a carrot food bar from Odwalla that says “No refined sugars.” Is this going to break me out? 

I found the health food bar you were talking about. I am going to list the ingredients and break them down to give you some information.

Odwalla Carrot Bar Ingredients: Organic rolled oats, raisins, grape juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, dried organic carrots, date puree, organic oat flour, crisp rice (rice flour, rice bran, rosemary extract), vegetable glycerin, plum puree, oat bran, coconut, organic sunflower oil, organic soy butter (organic soybeans, organic soy oil, sea salt). Contains less than 2% of calcium carbonate, natural flavors, soy lecithin, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), baking soda, salt, cinnamon, citric acid, beta carotene, vitamin E (D-alpha tocopheryl acetate), folic acid.

Raisins are dried grapes. Dried fruit has a higher concentration of sugar since all the water is taken our during the drying process. Therefore raisins are high in sugar. Carrots are high in sugar. (True, it is fructose (fruit sugar), but if you are sensitive to sugars, you may have problems with carrots and carrot juice. If and when I drink carrots I’ve juiced at home, I usually have a bit of breakout. (I am sensitive to sugars—are you?) Rice syrup is like sugar. Grape juice concentrate is loaded with sugar. Prunes are high in sugar. Dates (and figs) too. All in all no added sugar except that many of those ingredients contain a lot of sugars on their own.

As mentioned, this is an older label
Even though almost all of the above sugar sources come from “natural” and whole foods, they are all high-sugar content foods, which probably need to be avoided or used in moderation if you are sensitive to sugar (if sugar breaks you out). The biggest telltale sign that this particular product is a no-no for those of you sensitive to sugar is listed in the nutritional facts. This bar has 25 grams of sugar! That is about all you want to get during an entire day, let alone in one snack food/meal replacement.

You have to look at several factors when determining if a food might cause or be causing your skin problems. First are the actual ingredients themselves, then it is the sugar grams listed on almost all foods that are packaged. So check your labels and if all else fails, eat the food, in this case the nutritional bar, and see if your skin breaks out. With this particular bar, I would say it would cause your skin some trouble. Try it and see for yourself.

Im not advocating cutting these types of health” bars from your diet. I am, however, suggesting you look at ingredients as well as sugar grams in any and all foods you eat. If its a manufactured product, it will have a nutrition/ingredient label. Become aware of how much sugar you are ingesting. Knowledge is powerreally!

It’s good to know that change can and does happen and that many companies caught wind that people wanted foods with lower sugar counts and have abided. So, hurray for that. These types of bars can still be filled with 20 grams of sugar or more, so please look at the labels before you buy and especially before you eat so if you’re sensitive to sugar you can pass up something with lots of sugar and reach for a healthier alternative.

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