The fact that I do not eat some form of breakfast cereal and/or yoghurt seems to puzzle so many people. “But WHAT do you eat for breakfast?” they ask. To this I have many responses – bacon and eggs, leftover dinner re-jigged in one way or another, zucchini frittata….but this does not seem to whet the appetite. They like the texture of the grains, the sweetness of the sugar, or the creaminess of the yoghurt. At this point I bust out the big guns with my Berries & Coconut Extraordinaire (gratuitous food shot below).
Why would I choose this over your traditional breakfast cereal? Well, I have a short answer and a long answer. Today I’ll just stick with the short answer (not so short, really). Feel free to skip the explanation and scroll down to the recipe.
Short answer: sugar. All of your traditional breakfast cereals will contain sugar, even the ones that taste like cardboard -
Exhibit A - Kellogg’s All Bran ingredients: Wheat bran (85%), sugar, barley malt extract, salt, vitamins. When reading ingredients lists it is important to remember that they are listed in order of decreasing quantities, so sugar is the second major ingredient in this cereal (who’d have known, given the taste!). In gram amounts, there are 6.1g of sugar per serve, however most servings tend to be double the recommendation, which gives 12.2g or almost 3 teaspoons of sugar, just on your crappy tasting cereal, without the necessary honey, fruit and milk which add further insult to injury.
So what?! Sugar isn’t so bad, is it? Yes. Yes it is. And word is getting out about just how bad it is. Robert Lustig and friends made headlines last week with the publication of their latest research, titled “The toxic truth about sugar”, in the reputable Nature journal. I will summarise the effects of sugar (specifically fructose, which constitutes 50% of table sugar and yes, it is found in fruit) with some easy-to-read dot points:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- High triglycerides (fat in the blood)
- Insulin resistance (leads to diabetes, among many other complications)
- Accelerated aging process (due to damage to proteins, lipids (fats) and DNA) – that’s right – wrinkles!!
- Toxic effects on the liver similar to alcohol
- Cognitive decline
Thanks Rob and team!
And if you are concerned about your weight, you make want to kick the sweet stuff. Nerd-speak coming up (feel free to skip).The problem with sugar (all types) is that it releases insulin, a hormone which switches off the body’s ability to burn fat and switches on the body’s fat storing mechanisms (seriously, it does both at the same time! Damn you, insulin!). This is why I generally recommend a lowish-carbohydrate diet if you want to be a lean mean fat-burning machine. Without excess sugar sticking around (pun intended), the body will quite happily revert to fat as its main source of fuel. In fact, most tissues, especially your heart, prefer to burn fat (ahh the irony of the heart foundation tick). Sarah Wilson has written a great e-book called “I Quit Sugar”. You can check it out via the link on the side.
Luckily, there are many tasty, and healthy, options around to keep you looking and feeling great. So (finally) here is the recipe for my brekkie special:
**RECIPE: Kate Callaghan’s berries and coconut extraordinaire!
- 1 handful each of blueberries and raspberries (we get frozen and thaw what we need overnight)
- 1-2 handfuls mixed nuts, chopped
- Small handful pepitas and/or sunflower seeds
- Small handful organic coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
- ½-1tsp cinnamon (very good at controlling blood sugar levels and preventing insulin spikes)
- Organic coconut milk to mix – add as much as you like. You may want to start with a bit of water with the coconut milk if you find it too rich. Stir and enjoy!!
Why this recipe is good for you:
- Berries – high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and low in fructose
- Nuts and seeds – high in protein, good fats, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Cinnamon – controls blood sugar levels, cleanses the blood and improves circulation, possible anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
- Coconut products – The benefits really require a full dedicated blog post but, to name a few - boosted energy levels, improved digestion and absorption of other nutrients, improved calcium and magnesium absorption, reduced inflammation, supports thyroid function.
· Lustig, R.H; Schmidt, L.A. & Brindis, C.D; 2012, “The toxic truth about sugar”, in Nature, Vol. 482, Iss. 7383, p. 27
· Kellogg’s All Bran nutritional information: http://www.kellogg.com.au/Pages/NutritionInformationResults/tabid/266/Default.aspx?NIP_Page=321