This year’s nutritional bad guy? Without a doubt, it has to be sugar. If last years’ big diet trend was 5:2, then this year’s is low – or no – sugar. Now, it’s ‘most things in moderation’ here at Kale and Cocoa, so NO sugar is a bit hardcore (No ketchup? No Chutney? Really?) But I do get that processed sugar gives nothing but empty calories, pure energy with no other nutritional benefits. And, as I age, the post-sugar rollercoaster that leaves me shaky and weak is all the more apparent. So I’m working hard to avoid processed sugar (give or take the odd work-related biscuit emergency).
But I love sweet things so work on the principle that if something sweet gives me added extras – fibre, minerals, vitamins – then it’s OK in moderation. Which puts fruit, dried fruit and maple syrup on the menu. (Maple syrup has some nutrients and anti-oxidants – but a whole load of sugar I know. You can read more here http://authoritynutrition.com/maple-syrup/ )
At the most obvious level, too much sugar leads to weight gain – which is linked to many age-related diseases, including diabetes. I want to age well and avoid dementia, so I want to avoid diabetes too – a good reason to cut out sugar if ever there was one. There is a clear link between dementia and diabetes: Brown University even called Alzheimer’s ‘diabetes of the brain’. Numerous studies have shown that people with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of dementia http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029453.400-are-alzheimers-and-diabetes-the-same-disease.html#.U-PtuFRwZMs
And I know my own mum was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes not long after she was diagnosed with dementia. Recent research on people as young as 47 (arghh!) showed that those with high blood sugar also had reduced brain metabolism in one particular brain region. Alzheimer’s patients have a similar pattern of reduced brain metabolism – suggesting a link between elevated blood sugar levels and Alzheimer’s risk in non-diabetic patients. Basically, the higher our blood sugar, the higher, our risk of dementia. More here: http://www.eat2think.com/2013/05/sugar-alzheimers.html
So how to have a sweet treat and not overload on processed sugar? In the hot weather these ice lollies hit the spot for the whole family. You’ll need ice lolly moulds for the freezer to make these, but they are super-healthy compared to shop-bought lollies and so easy that the children make them by themselves.
VERY BERRY LOLLIES
100g summer berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
150g low fat Greek yoghurt
1 tbs maple syrup
Mash the fruit gently, fold in yoghurt and maple syrup. Pour into lolly moulds and freeze for at least four hours. Who needs Mr Whippy!