The Truth About Sugar: Not a Sweet Story

Welcome to science-informed home baking 101! Here are some facts you should know about sugar.

Sugar acts like a street drug:

Sugar activates the same pleasure and reward pathways in the brain as cocaine and heroin. Similar to other addictive substances, people develop tolerance to sugar, and need increasing amounts to feel satisfied. Sound familiar? You are not alone. Sugar consumption is on the rise, as are weight gain, type two diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

Then there is also the risk of fatty liver. Large amounts of sugar are turned into fat in your liver. Table sugar, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup, are made up of equal parts fructose and glucose. Glucose can be metabolized in every cell in our body, but fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. When you consume too much fructose, the liver is overtaxed and turns fructose into fat. The result? Nonalcoholic fatty liver.

Here’s the take home message. Our bodies are hardwired for sweets. The key is moderation, and baking them yourself. When you control the type and amount of sweetener in the finished product, you take back your power to control your health, and the health of your family.

The Truth about Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners, and HFCS:

Sugar is lurking in a lot of foods like beverages, condiments, and frozen or processed foods. Sugar is often in so-called health foods like granola and protein bars, as well as gluten and fat free preparations.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sugar’s evil cousin, is often present as well. As we know, HFCS pumps fat into the liver, but it also increases intestinal permeability, and exposes your immune system to compounds it was never supposed to see. This leads to autoimmunity.

Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners are not much better. They also cause insulin resistance by changing up the gut microbiome.

Home Bakers as Primary Care Providers:

When you bake for yourself and your family, you can select less processed ingredients over white sugar, white flour, and processed fats. Choosing honey, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, and date sugar add not only sweetness, but a boost of antioxidants and minerals as well. Swapping in organic nut flours and healthy fats adds prebiotics and and omega 3 fatty acids to the mix. While moderation is key-enter the 80:20 rule… baking your own treats puts the control back into your hands.

This cake mixes up in one bowl, and delivers moist, chocolately satisfation. Organic cane sugar is balanced out by chestnut flour-high in fiber and prebiotic substances, and lifted by the taste of olive oil, highlighting the pure chocolate flavor of this decadent-tasting treat.

Kitchen-Prescription Recipe:

Chocolate Chestnut Olive Oil Cake

One cup of organic evaporated cane sugar
Two large eggs at room temperature
½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
One cup of whole milk Greek yogurt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
One cup chestnut flour, substitute almond meal if chestnut flour not available
One teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Rub a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Combine the evaporated cane sugar, eggs, olive oil, and Greek yogurt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Stir in the cocoa powder, chestnut flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Mix together with the whisk until just combined. Scrape into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the middle is set, and the sides are beginning to pull away from the edges. Allow to cool. This cake is actually better if it sits overnight. Serve with cinnamon-dusted berries.

Medical Mentions:

Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soda is associated with an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women. Both soda and sugary desserts are among the foods most often reported to worsen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Chestnuts are a prebiotic food. Organic chestnut flour can be purchased at

Evaporated cane sugar is a less-processed, more nutritious form of cane sugar than either white sugar or brown sugar. The process of refining white and brown sugar strips either sugar cane or sugar beets down to just the pure sugar, with none of the minerals that are originally present in the plant. As an organic food, the evaporated cane juice contains fewer pesticides and drug-resistant bacteria. Neither of the sweeteners is a good source of vitamins, minerals or fiber.

Honey has flavonoids and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants. Choose raw honeys from local apiaries, that are dark in color, signaling a higher flavonoid content. Children under 12 months of age should not eat honey due to the risk of botulism.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ade Eke says:

    Thanks Jill, I definitely learnt a lot from that. What’s your thought on the sugar found in fruits? Diets these days are now banning fruits

Leave a Reply