Food, Uncategorized

Hidden Sugar

Consumption of sugar has increased manifolds in the last few decades. With our modern and fast paced life, our kitchen and pantry shelves are filled with packaged food more than ever before. Sugar is in the top three ingredients of most of the packaged and processed foods. Excess sugar in our diet not just spikes our body fat, but also makes us prone to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, hormonal disorders like Thyroid & PCOS, increases insulin resistance and inflammation which further leads to arthritis, High blood pressure and other diseases. Even though we are much more health conscious than any generation that lived on the planet, the occurrence of the above listed issues has been skyrocketing.

The daily intake of added sugar recommended by WHO is less than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar a day (This doesn’t take into count the naturally sweet foods like fruits).  While, we are unlikely to hit  even 3/4th of this threshold if we eat home cooked food, just a can of soft drink is enough to make us go overboard. After all, we do not eat gulab jamuns, cakes or payasams every day.

Let us see where does the hidden sugar in our diet comes from and which are the foods that might wreak havoc in our body, without our knowledge.

  1. Breakfast cereal and Snack bars– All breakfast cereals are highly processed, devoid of nutrients and are loaded with sugar, salt, cheap oil, and other additives. They spike the sugar levels right at the start of the day.
Special K
Special for the amount of sugar and price.

What is so special about the ‘Special’ cereals endorsed by actresses who look super fit? Their sugar levels and price are higher than the regular varieties.

The several names of sugar in the same cereal
snack bars
Way too many sweetners

For those of you who are wondering what is high fructose corn syrup, it’s a cheap sweetener which is genetically modified and has several health implications

Alternative – Flattened Rice flakes/avil/poha, puffed amaranth/millets

  1. Soft drink/bottled juices – Soft drinks are nothing but a mixture of carbonated water, sugar/high fructose corn syrup and cancer causing additives like artificial colours and flavours. Just 350 ml (12OZ) of any soft drink will make you go over and above the 25 gm sugar limit.

A can of coke has sugar way more than your day’s limit.

This does not mean fruit juices have all the goodness of fruits, (even though some tag lines suggest it). Most fruit juices are water, sugar and added colours with fruit concentrate and flavour .


How about the 100% fruit juice? Fruits and vegetables get oxidised easily when exposed to air, meaning the nutrients vanish in the air. Since they don’t have any amount of fibre, they spike the sugar levels too. This does not happen when you consume the whole fruit. Read more about juices and smoothies here.

Alternative – Freshly squeezed lemon juice, coconut water and plain water can quench thirst &  hydrate, and fresh fruit for a sweet tooth fix without piling on the pounds.

  1. Ketchup,jams, dressing, spreads – If dosa, idli or chapathi has to packed in lunch, most kids demand and most moms yield to squeezing jams or ketchup into the box . ketchup, jams and dressings are not just sugar laden but also filled with additives such as artificial flavours and colours that are known to be harmful to brain and cause ADHD.

Ketchup , HFCS is the third main ingredient
Sugar is the highest ingredient in any jam

Most of us consume more empty calories from the ketchup we use as a ‘Side’ for the pizza, than the pizza itself.

Alternative – Home made chutneys and powders, filled with goodness of protein, fibre and love. Real Italian pizzas are neither loaded with cheese, nor served with ketchup .

  1. Bread, biscuits/cookies – Even the best protein biscuit has 29.8 gm of sugar for every 30 gm of protein, for which we pay a very high amount.

29.8 gms of sugar for 30 gm of protein, for every 100 gm.  Good for diabetics to stay diabetic lifelong.
fibre one

Need less to say all other digestive and cream biscuits have similar list, labels and numbers for sugar. As grown ups, if we decide to switch to the low fat chips/cookies, we are heading for even more trouble as those foods contain more sugar than the regular ones.

Bread is a convenient food, not a healthy one. Watch my video about the healthiest bread.

That’s the label of a whole wheat bread

Alternative –  Chapathis/rotis, Home made snacks, even if deep fried will not have the additives and sugar and are healthier and fresh than store-bought packaged ones. Home made phulkas or rotis have only three ingredients – flour , water and a pinch of salt.

  1. Fruit Snacks and flavoured yogurt – Snack bars , fruit bars , fruit snacks and so are the names. All they have is high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial colours & flavours and so on.

fruit snack
Corn syrup, Sugar , synthetic colours, flavours and so on

Why buy a flavoured yogurt which is sugar laden and has artificial flavour ?

Just a cup has more sugar than your daily limit- 26 grams

Alternative –  Plain home-made yogurt and fresh whole  fruits instead of processed and packaged ones.

I can hear most moms cribbing that my child/family  wont have food without flavour or the sweetness. Well, that’s because their taste buds and brain are tricked to like these flavours with the additives in these packaged food. Moms know Miracles don’t happen overnight, especially in case of kids. Constant , steady changes and educating the family about food and nutrients will help them to make better choices even if they are alone.

And for grown ups like us, lets learn to understand what is real food and what it does to body. Priority matters.

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Food, Uncategorized

Is Brown Rice Better?

Brown rice vs White rice

While everything white is categorized as refined, and processed, white rice too got pushed into the black list of foods. When the West started switching from white bread to brown bread, the developing south east Asian countries started aping them by switching from white rice to brown rice.

Even though most rice eating Asian countries like India, Japan and China have had rice as their staple diet for several centuries and civilizations they never ate brown rice. Is there something that we are missing out while we are busy reading the internet and switching to brown rice?

What is brown rice and what is white rice

Brown rice is the whole grain, where only the inedible part, the hull is removed. Hence, experts claim that most nutritious parts are intact. On the other hand, white rice gets the white colour as the hull and bran and is removed, either by milling or hand pounding.

Let’s compare on many fronts, which is better and why.


  1. Nutrients

The chart below gives us the glimpse of nutrient value of brown rice and white rice.


Brown rice is better than white rice in nutrient content. Does that mean it is good to consume it? Let us look at the other factors too.

  2. Anti nutrients – Phytates ,Lectin and Fibre

Though brown rice has significantly higher vitamin and mineral content, the same cannot be absorbed by our body as it has anti nutrients such as phytates, lectins and fibre which binds to the  minerals and vitamins. Phytates also inhibit some of the digestive enzymes like amylase, pepsin and trypsin. Lectins can penetrate the intestinal lining, interfere with nutrient digestion and absorption.  Though brown rice is well marketed now as we are made to believe it is a great source of fibre, this fibre isn’t so easy to digest.

  3. Digestibility

As the bran and germ are still intact in brown rice, it is tough to digest. Brown rice aggravates or in some cases even cause leaky gut( a condition where undigested food particles enter blood stream from gut/intestine)  and Irritable Bowel Syndrome as it Is difficult for our intestine to break down the bran and germ. When we wean off infants, we start them on white rice or par boiled rice and this shows how safe and easy it is for us to digest it.

 4.Arsenic and Heavy Metals

Arsenic is a heavy metal and is toxic to humans, especially the inorganic type( comes in the soil due to pesticides and fertilizers). Arsenic in the soil is absorbed more by rice plant compared to other grains like millets or wheat. This inorganic arsenic comes from pesticides and fertilizers. In many studies and tests conducted for testing arsenic it was found that brown rice had 50-80% more arsenic than white rice.

 5. GI and GL – Glycaemic index and Glycaemic load

The glycaemic index indicates how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose (sugar) into the blood stream. Glycaemic load is a ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food that measures the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food.

GI  and GL of White rice is slightly higher than brown rice. Since  we don’t eat rice by itself, and is eaten either with a pulse or vegetable and a little amount of fat, like we do in khichdi, Pongal, sambar rice, pulav or even idli/dosa , the food is digested and glucose is realised into blood slowly and steadily.

6. Taste matters

Even the best nutrition experts and fitness trainers will agree upon the fact that white rice tastes much better than brown rice. White rice wins hands down .

The west has recently started talking about a new type of rice, called converted rice. It is better known as parboiled rice to us in India. Par boiled rice is made by partially cooking it in hot water or steaming under pressure and then drying before milling. Due to this procedure Parboiled rice retains all nutrients of brown rice and is easier to digest. This is a reason most Indian communities start feeding infants a porridge made of parboiled rice when they introduce solids. Parboiled white rice is easily fermented (fermentation is the breakdown of the glucose by beneficial bacteria) and hence used for making idli and dosa in southern parts of India.

rice pounding
Picture showing how rice was hand pounded and winnowed in ancient times.

Our ancestors hand pounded rice to remove the hull and bran long before machines came. If brown rice was the best food, do you think they would have wasted time and energy pounding the rice. Now, after several centuries, we have evidence after conducting research that diet consisting of  brown rice is not better than white rice due to its anti-nutrients which might do more harm than good.


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