While carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body, sugars get a much worse press. Often associated with obesity, diabetes or even tooth cavities, manufacturers often attempt to reduce the quantities (“less sugar”, “low in sugar”, “no added sugar”) without mentioning the different qualities of sugar… We will tell you all about sugar and how it is used in Arthur’s Small Plates.
Carbohydrates and sugar
A little flashback to the days of biology lessons: sugars are carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. In fact, there are two types of carbohydrates:
- Simple carbohydrates, which are small molecules. These are commonly referred to as “sugars” because of their sweet flavour. Some of the main sugars are sucrose (refined white sugar), lactose (sugar naturally found in milk and one of the main allergens) and fructose (the sugar in fruit).
- Complex carbohydrates, which are much longer molecules but have no sweet taste. Starch, which can be found in cereals (corn, wheat, etc.) or in tubers (potatoes, cassava, sweet potatoes, etc.). “Starch makes up 20 to 70% of plant tissue” (Futura-Science).
Sugar in the nutritional values of risotto from Les Petits Plats d’Arthur
Refined sugar and unrefined sugar
The concept of refining is rather the industrial process used to purify the sugar. However, these refining steps remove valuable nutritional properties such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The sugar thus purified is purely calorific and does not provide the body with any nutrients. We then speak of “empty calories”.
Be careful, however, not to mix up white sugar and refined sugar because the sugars from beets are white in appearance but they have not undergone any refining, this is its natural colour. Indeed, “only white cane sugar is refined” (Lesucre.com)
Fast sugars, slow sugars and the glycaemic index (GI)
What distinguishes slow sugars from fast sugars is their ability to cause blood sugar levels (blood sugar) to vary more or less quickly.
Indeed, rapid sugar will increase blood sugar very quickly and over a short period. This is called a blood sugar spike. Slow sugars fuel the body more sustainably over time, thus avoiding spikes in blood sugar (or hyperglycaemia) and drops in blood sugar (or hypoglycaemia), which generally follow sharp increases in blood sugar.
To measure this ability to rapidly raise blood sugar, we use the glycaemic index, or G.I. The higher the GI of sugar, the more blood sugar rises. The reference of the glycaemic scale is given by pure glucose whose GI is equal to 100. Foods can then be classified by glycaemic index:
- GI low sugar up to 55;
- GI medium sugar 55 to 70;
- GI strong sugar – for foods with a GI over 70.
Curve of the evolution of the level of carbohydrate in the blood according to the glycaemic index
Not all sugars provide the same sweetness in the mouth. This is why we introduced the concept of sweetening power (SW). The higher the sweetening power (> 1) the more you will perceive sweetness for the same amount of sugar.
For example, fructose has a sweetening power 1.5 times more intense than sucrose (sucrose was taken as a reference and PSsaccharose = 1)
Conclusion: sugar in brief
All this info is very nice, but what should I use for sugar? The best is to avoid it! A little easy as a conclusion you will say …
If you really have to use sugar, you have to look at the nutritional values of it (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and therefore favour unrefined sugars, slow sugars (and therefore low or even medium GI ), and sugars with a strong sweetening power to benefit from the sweet taste by eating less sugar.
How about the Petits Plats d’Arthur?
At Arthur’s little dishes, we take care of your well-being first: little or no sugar is used. Some recipes, especially desserts, require the addition of sugar. But we do everything we can to use as little as possible. Thus, our sweetest recipe (the all-chocolate cake) contains only 10% total sugars, which is surprisingly low for a dessert!
However, we do not use sugar derivatives (aspartame, stevia, etc.), the long term health effects of which are not yet fully understood. We use sugars with natural sweetening power, or even with the lowest possible GI.
Four of our recipes contain sugar (May 2019) but they have been chosen so that you can feast without remorse:
- Pork cheek with lentils contains some unrefined brown cane sugar, raising the sugar level to 0.7g per 100 grams.
- The duck with apples and chestnut honey which delights us with its subtle sweet and savoury flavour contains… chestnut honey, rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements (vitamins B and C, iron, magnesium…). A sweet and savoury dish with only 6.9g of sugar per 100g.
- The pear clafoutis stands out with a coconut blossom sugar. Here again, a very special sugar since it has a very low glycemic index of 35, and many nutrients that white sugar lacks! (lanutrition.fr)
- Finally, for our all-chocolate cake, we chose the two sugars with the lowest GIs: coconut blossom sugar, with a GI of 35 and acacia honey, also known for its low GI of only 35.
Concerned about the quality of the products used as well as the effect of these foods on our body, Les Petits Plats d´Arthur makes a point of limiting sugar. White sugar, for example, is not in any of our recipes, and we never use refined sugars.
As previously mentioned in the conclusion, when it comes to sugar, it is best to avoid it. And that, Les Petits Plats d´Arthur understood it well!