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Health wisdom: Sugary facts and treats

Have queries about sweets and how to get rid of your sweet cravings? Dr Anjali Mukerjee, our expert answers some of them for you.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2012 15:13 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Have queries about sweets and how to get rid of your sweet cravings? Our expert answers some of them for you.

Que: I have a sweet tooth, but I try to avoid sweets as far as possible. Is it a good idea to cut out sweets from the diet completely?
Dr Anjali Mukerjee: Excess sugar intake affects your immune system, making you weak enough to fall prey to several diseases. Therefore, it is best to reduce sugar intake to one to two teaspoons a day or avoid it completely. Instead, eat natural sweeteners like dates, figs, honey and fruits in moderation if you have a sweet tooth.

Que: Is it a myth that chocolate helps when you’re depressed? What is it about chocolate that makes you feel better?
Dr Anjali Mukerjee: Chocolates do help to make you feel good, but only temporarily. They help in producing serotonin, which is meant to calm a person. With a rise in the level of stress, the body needs serotonin (found mainly in carbohydrates such as potatoes, chocolates, pizzas, burgers and milk-shakes). When depressed, the serotonin level dips, and chocolate helps in increasing the level. The more sugar you eat, the more hungry you feel, which leads to weight gain.

Que: How can I control sugar cravings? What foods help control the urge to have sugar?
Dr Anjali Mukerjee: The best way to curb sugar craving is to increase protein intake. Avoid sugary deserts and refined food and increase intake of water and fibre-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. Foods rich in protein such as soybean, paneer, dal, tofu and almonds help to keep the blood sugar in balance and reduce sugar cravings. Craving sweets is also often an indication of a lack of certain nutrients such as chromium and tryptophan, hence taking them through foods and supplements are recommended. Go for a brisk walk as it would not only relieve stress but also releases endorphins that give you the same high as sugar does.

Que: Can consuming fruits for breakfast substitute the requirement for sugar?
Dr Anjali Mukerjee: Fruits provide you with fibre, fructose and also an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants without many calories. They also form a good snacking option.

Que: Is dark chocolate healthier than milk chocolate?
Dr Anjali Mukerjee: Dark chocolate contains more cocoa and less sugar and fat than milk chocolate. Studies have shown that darker the chocolate, the richer it is in flavonoids and antioxidants. Dark chocolate has a higher copper content due to which it is considered heart-friendly. It also has two to three times the amount of flavonoids found in milk. So if you are looking for the highest amount of flavoniods, it is best to choose a brand which has 70 per cent or more cocoa content. Weight watchers should however realise that even the darkest of the chocolate would have fat and sugar and is best eaten in moderation.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.



Broken wheat flour
Unsweetened muesli
Cooked green peas
Sweet corn
Diced carrot
Green chillies
Green chilli paste
Oil and salt

Directions: Steam the sweet corn and mash it coarsely. Mix broken wheat flour, mashed sweet corn, green peas, carrot and ginger chilli paste. Add salt to taste. Make small fingers from this mixture and roll it in muesli. Bake the fingers in an oven, or using very little oil, shallow fry them in the pan. Serve hot with green chutney.

- Jyoti Sawant, nutritionist, Gold’s Gym