Tag Archives: sugar

Flavored Milk Debate

Should chocolate milk be banned from schools? That’s the topic of a heated debate going on in the school system these days. Until now I haven’t opined on this subject, but recently I received some new information based on scientific studies that has made me decide it’s time to share some facts and my opinion.

Schools that have banned or are considering banning chocolate milk are doing so because they think eliminating a source of added sugars will lower childhood obesity rates. In a recent YouTube video, cardiologist Dr. James Rippe has weighed in on the issue of banning flavored milk and he also clarifies some misconceptions about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), one of the types of added sugar used in flavored milk. Here is a summary of some of his main points:

  • There are no studies that link the consumption of chocolate milk with childhood obesity.
  • There are studies that show chocolate milk consumption is correlated with total milk consumption. A recent study that reviewed previous studies on this topic1 showed that when chocolate milk was banned, milk consumption decreased immediately by 35 percent and there was a corresponding decrease in calcium and vitamin D levels. Both calcium and vitamin D are critically important nutrients for bone building at school age when children need it the most.
  • Whether chocolate milk contains HFCS or sucrose (table sugar) makes no difference. A sugar is a sugar. HFCS is sugar made from corn and table sugar is made from sugar cane or beets. They both have the same number of calories, the same level of sweetness, and our bodies metabolize them the same way.
  • The Dietary Guideline recommendation for milk and dairy consumption is three servings a day. Currently only one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls are getting that recommended amount.

At the end of the day, I think there is enough evidence to show that banning chocolate milk has the potential to do more harm than good for children. As with all foods, I believe chocolate milk has a place in the diet of children and adults in moderation. Making something completely off-limits sends the wrong message to children. Let’s teach them portion control and balance, rather than restriction.

Disclaimer: I am a consultant to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA); however, all statements and opinions are my own.

1Patterson J, Saidel M. The removal of flavored milk in schools results in a reduction in total milk purchases in all grades, K-12. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109,(9): A97.2.

Oh Honey!

During the Jewish New Year in September, honey is used in cooking, added to the traditional challah bread, and spread on the new fruit we eat, all to symbolize a sweet new year. But is honey better for you than plain ole sugar?

The short answer is no — honey is not nutritionally better for you than sugar. In fact, honey is a form of sugar. Both honey and table sugar are simple carbohydrates made up of two sugar molecules, fructose and glucose. Honey contains a greater proportion of fructose than table sugar does, and since fructose is the sweetest of the simple sugars, it is sweeter than table sugar.

Because of it’s sweetness, honey can be used in smaller amounts to achieve the same level of sweetness you would get from a larger amount of sugar. That being said, honey is denser than sugar; therefore, it has more calories per tablespoon than sugar does, 64 vs. 46 calories, respectively.

Honey is also a great alternative to molasses, maple syrup, and agave nectar, although vegans may want to stick with the latter. Did you know that most vegans don’t eat honey because it is considered an animal product since it is produced by bees?!

Although there is no real nutritional advantage to using honey in place of sugar, there are some health and medicinal benefits to honey that sugar does not have.

  • Honey contains antioxidants that help fight off disease and act as antibacterial agents.
  • Because it contains a fair amount of water, honey is a humectant that attracts and retains moisture. This is great for baking because honey will keep baked goods moist. It’s also a reason honey is found in some skin-care products and is a great at-home remedy for aggravated skin. Not only does it sooth the skin, it pulls moisture into it to keep your skin from drying out.
  • Honey helps heal wounds due to its enzymes.

Honey should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container so it doesn’t absorb moisture. It can last for years if kept properly!

Stay tuned for a great cake recipe that includes honey later this week!