In moderation, sugar is good for you. It gives you energy and boosts your mental faculties.
By the seventh shopping stop at Orchard Road Linda was feeling faint and licking her lips for something sweet. She pictured muffins with sugary icing on top. And she just couldn’t get the fluffy scones with luscious strawberry jam and clotted cream out of her head.
“I was just craving for something sugary. The sweeter the better. It probably has something to do with the energy that my body needed to prevent me from passing out,” adds Linda Tang, 35, an architect.
When your body has a sugar craving it’s often wise to give it what it wants.
What is sugar
All sugar is really a simple carbohydrate, a molecule made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. In the world of nutrition with its phytochemicals, triglycerides, and micronutrients, its simplicity is refreshing. It’s a wonder that such a simple compound has inspired such controversy. Perhaps in knowing more about it, we can put it in its proper place, and then get on with enjoying our tea time.
There are two types of sugars, those made up of one sugar molecule, called a monosaccharide, and those made up of two sugar molecules linked together, called a disaccharide. The monosaccharide includes glucose, fructose and galactose. These three combine in various ways to make up the disaccharides. Glucose + fructose = sucrose (table sugar), glucose + glucose = Maltose (which appears when starch is being broken down, like when seeds sprout or starch is being digested), and galactose + glucose = lactose (a sugar made by mammals and found in milk). Many sugar molecules linked together form a complex carbohydrate, such as in grains, or potatoes, and the sweet taste is lost. These carbohydrates are often referred to as starch.
We need sugar and the energy
No matter how you consume your carbohydrates, simple like in sugar, or more complex, eventually all of it will be broken down in your body to glucose. That’s because glucose is the main energy source. Like plants, we all need a source of energy to live and grow, so do our bodies. Every form of activities we do from sleeping to shopping or even having a game of golf, requires energy and we get it from the nutrients in the food we consume.
It is important that we have the right amount of sugar intake to meet our daily needs. If you do not take enough sugar daily, it may lead to symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar level) such as hunger, dizziness, headache and anxiety. However, if you take in more energy than you can work off, then it will convert to fat.
As Mary Poppins said ‘Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’ and it really does help to lift your mood when you are feeling down or lethargic. So go ahead and indulge in those scones, brownies and other tea time delights; just make sure you do it in moderation and with common sense.
Recipe for a sweet-tooth break
Position a rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat to 218°C. Have ready a large ungreased baking sheet.
Whisk together in a bowl to mix thoroughly:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces.
Using two knives, cut in the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt.
1 cup heavy cream or milk (save a little for brushing)
Mix all together to form a moist dough. Knead gently in the bowl for about 1minute. Rest dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Pinch dough into balls the size of walnuts and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream or milk, and bake till tops are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving with jam, butter and cream.
Variations: Add raisins or lemon/orange zest, cranberries, cherries or whatever you like before adding the cream or milk. Or sprinkle tops with brown sugar, cinnamon or nutmeg before baking.