• Newspaper library: The farce of 'healthy' alternatives to sugar

Neither Tenorios, nor fritters nor bones of saint. Halloween is here to stay and, at least for my children, none of these traditions can compete against sweets and pumpkins. I will not be the one to tear my clothes before the trick or treat and other sugar-free bars. If it is to be once a year, let it be. However, I find it striking how the "healthy treats" proliferate at this time, a manual oxymoron. The candies, by definition, are not healthy and most of those that sell us as such are nothing more than a goal that we sneak through the squad.

What are the sweets made of?

Despite the many myths about them, jelly beans are not made of plastic, or petroleum or any toxic material. Bricks, clouds, strawberries, bears, sharks and other mythological beings, contain between 40% and 70% sugar r. Beyond sugar, they are composed of water and additives such as gelling agents, thickeners and dyes that make these colors and textures so attractive and characteristic. In short, they hardly provide nutritional value but, in return, we gain a handful of kilocalories: about 350 per 100 grams

Are there healthy treats?

Although today from the marketing departments put their best efforts in trying to sell us otherwise, there is no good toy . Someone had to say it. These are some examples of false claims that we can find in jelly beans:

1. "Made with fruit." If we read the label we will see that the main ingredients of these candies are usually juices and fruit concentrates. That the word "fruit" does not confuse us: according to the WHO, the sugar in juices and concentrates is also considered free sugar . Remember that your approximate intake should not exceed 25 grams daily.

2. "With stevia." According to Regulation (EC) No. 258/1997, the marketing of stevia leaves is only authorized as an infusion, but not as a sweetener. Therefore, as "natural" as it sounds, when we talk about stevia, we refer to steviol glycosides, an additive also known as E-960. The advantage of stevia is that it is a sweetener 300 times sweeter than sugar but with an almost imperceptible effect on blood levels. And a little more. Despite what is being said, stevia has not proven to cure anything today.

3. "With milk." Although the word milk appears in giant size, if we look at the small print we will see that in general the milk is in an insignificant amount . Its main function is to serve as a claim. No, a caramel with milk will not get us the calcium of the day.

4. "0% fat". Candies, by definition, do not carry fat among their main ingredients. Therefore, bragging about not carrying fat should not have any added advantage. Its conflicting ingredient is sugar, not fat.

5. "Gluten free / cow's milk protein / lactose free". This option may be interesting as an alternative for children with celiac disease, allergies or intolerances. Of course, without forgetting that nutritionally they are sister cousins ​​of "conventional" sweets and therefore the alternative must also be punctual.

6. "Sugar free". That the sweets are "sugar free" seems to leave us all with a clear conscience. But what are sugar-free sweets made of? Surprise! Up to 98% of polyols . If we read the label carefully, we will see that the first ingredient in sugar-free sweets is usually one of these great strangers.

What are polyols or polyols?

They are compounds that are naturally present in different fruits. However, the industry also uses them as additives in products such as chewing gum, candy, desserts or in so-called "diabetic products." It is true that they have some advantages over sugar. Among them, they do not cause cavities, they are absorbed slowly without hardly altering glycemia and provide approximately half the calories of sugar. Your inconveniences? If consumed in excess, they can cause abdominal discomfort, flatulence and laxative effect. Come on, you're going for the pin . They also favor the preference for the sweet taste and can induce to consume greater quantities of the products that contain them.

How do I identify polyols in labels?

The names and surnames of the usual suspects are sorbitol (E-420), maltitol (E-965), xylitol (E-967), mannitol (E-421) or erythritol (E-968). In products without sugar or without added sugars the manufacturer must indicate in what quantity in which they are present. And now comes the challenge: I encourage you to read the nutritional table of the first sugar-free candy you have at home in search of the percentage of polyalcohols. Typically, they have more than 90%. Is it ethical to call a product that is made up of more than 90% sweeteners "healthy"? I leave it there.

The conclusion?

That the marketing does not confuse us: although the sweets are dressed as healthy, sweets remain. My advice for Halloween? In the pumpkins I place my hopes. In addition to decorating and piercing them, it turns out that pumpkins are also eaten. Compared to 40-70% sugar from jelly beans and their 350 kcal per 100 grams, pumpkins contain more than 90% water and only 15 kcal per 100 grams. They are also rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, thiamine and carotenoids. Any more information? Yes, pumpkins cost one or two euros a kilo. If someone finds a "healthy toy" on the market for that price, please let me know. I'm interested.


Consultas a papel@elmundo.es and @Papel_EM

This week I have heard some news about the benefits of drinking raw milk in asthma and allergy, especially in children. What is true?

There is no scientific evidence that drinking raw milk can be beneficial in any way. On the contrary, we know that by drinking raw milk we run the risk of infection by microorganisms such as Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp . or the sadly best known in recent months, Listeria monocytogenes . Especially children, pregnant women and the elderly are at greater risk and in no case should they consume raw milk. In fact, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) recommends avoiding at this stage of life not only raw milk but other dairy products such as cheeses made with raw milk. Unfortunately, the owners of these days on the benefits of drinking raw milk correspond to statements subject to conflict of interest by some producers in the sector. Let's not fall into the trap and drink pasteurized or sterilized milk (UHT), always.

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