Last week I wrote a post on sugar for the Food Undressed blog at ConsumerBell (a website that aims to connect consumers and serve as a resource for cases of consumer mistreatment by corporations).
The post had two main points:
1. Some scientists think that what really counts is how sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and what effect it has on your body. To measure the impact that sugar has on the body, scientists have come up with terms such as “glycemic index” and “glycemic load.” Glycemic index is a measure of how much and how quickly the sugar from a food will enter the bloodstream (roughly, how much it will increase blood sugar and insulin levels). Glycemic load takes into account both the rate at which sugar enters the blood stream and total quantity of sugar in that food. So, for example, watermelon has a high glycemic index because the sugar in watermelon gets right into the bloodstream (it’s just sugar and water after all). But there isn’t much total sugar in watermelon, so it’s glycemic load is relatively low.
2. Things like “glycemic index” and “glycemic load” can be even more confusing than thinking about grams of sugar, however. One alternative might be to describe the amount, index, or load of sugar in foods in terms of “apple equivalents.” For example, you could tell someone that they would have to eat 8 apples in one sitting in order to get the same amount of sugar as they would get from one medium McDonald’s chocolate shake. Or you could tell someone that the glycemic load of a Snickers bar is three times that of an apple. Personally, I like the idea of “apple equivalents” as a unit of measurement. Seems pretty simple and intuitive.
So, when you’re sizing up sugary desserts and portion sizes over the holidays, try to ask yourself how many apples that would be…