PT Recipe: Sweet Talk

Once prized as a luxury worth its weight in gold, refined sugar is now demonized for an outsize contribution to body weight. But science has served some sweet news about sugar: Not all sugars are created equal metabolically. And some—take a deep breath—may actually benefit type-2 diabetics.

We not only have taste buds for sweetness, our bodies require sugar; glucose is the food of the brain. But fructose, concentrated from America's corn crop and poured into beverages and processed foods, takes a very fast track to become fat. The Journal of Nutrition reported that fructose is preferentially turned into fat in the liver, where the body makes a snap decision whether to burn incoming sugar as energy or store it as fat for later use. Once fructose enters the body's store-or-burn pathway, the machinery is difficult to shut down. Out pour triglycerides, raising blood fat levels and setting up the next meal to be turned into fat.

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Some sugars, notably less-refined dark sugars, contain nutritional hotshots like antioxidants. What's more, they tend to be absorbed slowly in the gut, rendering them potentially helpful to diabetics trying to regulate blood-sugar levels.

Refined sugar remains a luxury for the human body. Sugar is best consumed in its least-refined forms—those bundles of fiber and vitamins called fruits and vegetables.

Types of sweeteners:

  • Sucrose (table sugar)

    Composition: 50% glucose, 50% fructose

    Antioxidant level: low

  • Sucrose (brown sugar)

    Composition: 50% glucose, 50% fructose

    Antioxidant level: high

  • High-fructose corn syrup

    Composition: Up to 80% fructose, 20% sucrose

    Antioxidant level: low

  • Maple syrup

    Composition: 89% sucrose, 11% glucose

    Antioxidant level: high

  • Fruits: Apple

    Composition: Fructose, glucose, sucrose 4:2:1

    Antioxidant level: very high

Recipe: Candied Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Total Time: 25 Minutes

When the apple crop is in, you will find a wide array of apple varieties even in your local supermarket. You can choose crisp, tart Granny Smiths for this, or any other firm apple.

Ingredients

  • 3 apples
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp. five-spice powder (optional)
  • 1½ Tbsp. maple syrup
  • ½ Tbsp. barley malt
  • ½ cup roasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • a pinch of salt

Directions

Quarter and core apples; cut each quarter into 3 to 4 slices. Place apples, cider, spices, and salt in 10-inch skillet. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer a few minutes until apples are barely tender. Over a large bowl, pour apple mixture through a colander; set apples aside. Pour cider back into skillet along with maple syrup and barley malt, and cook uncovered over high heat until reduced to ⅓ cup syrup. Place apple slices on plates and drizzle each plate with syrup. Garnish each plate with 2 tablespoons chopped pecans.

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