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Just A Spoonful of Sugar

OK Mary Poppins, it’s not really ice cream.

It’s really frozen yogurt sweetened with fructose, or fruit sugar. I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, and I’m not a fan of plain table sugar, or sucrose.

Sherry Flaig

The reason it’s yogurt is because these days, kids are inundated with sweets and junk food at every corner. I know first-hand because when I’m out with my own kids, they get offered snacks and junk food everywhere. Remember when the only time we were offered candy was at the drive-thru at the bank? Now it’s practically everywhere.

And of course, I also see it in the office in the form of cavities on younger kids.

I’ll tell you a secret. I hate to see cavities on kids. I really do. I’d much rather perform a perfect checkup than fill a cavity. I would prefer that all my patients keep their original teeth for a very long time. So I’d like to see them have less refined sugar and less starchy, sticky foods.

But let’s get back to fructose. This is fruit sugar and it’s found in apples, orange, carrots, bananas, plums peaches…you get the idea.  Fructose is not white table sugar, that’s sucrose which is refined from sugar cane and/or sugar beets.  And there’s high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is all over the news.  HFCS is made by refining corn sugar into a thick syrup and it’s very cheap, that’s why it ends up in so much of our processed foods.

As Americans, our sugar intake is rather high; the average American eats almost 130 pounds a year. And to someone that cares for teeth, that’s a rather alarming number.  Stop and think about all the soda, cake, candy, and chocolate that we enjoy on a daily or weekly basis and multiply that by 52 weeks.  And if your kid’s drink sports drinks (really nothing more than sweetened water) on a regular basis, they’re constantly bathing their teeth in sugar.

It wasn’t always this way. Sugar started out as a spice, more of a luxury ingredient. Only in the last couple hundred years has sugar been something the average person used on a regular basis.  And as modern science got better at extracting sugar from beets, corn, and sugar cane, the sugar became cheaper and more prevalent in our diets.

Which brings me back to the ice cream.  Which is fructose-sweetened yogurt. It’s lower in fat, it’s naturally sweetened with fruit sugar and we use pretty small serving cups. And that’s the best way to enjoy any sugar, in moderation.

Of course the best way to enjoy fructose is in a whole apple, peach, plum, banana, etc.  That way you’re getting all the minerals, vitamins, and fiber that the Good Lord intended use to get.

Now go brush your teeth, please.

And if you’d like further proof, take a look at this infographic on Forbes.


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