You may have seen recipes that say ingredients like coconut sugar and date sugar contribute nutritional benefits. Although there are a few elements in these sugars that make them different from regular sugars, in reality, coconut sugar and date sugar are almost identical to regular cane sugar in terms of nutrients and calories. Both consist mainly of sugars, which are simple carbohydrates. Diabetes Canada states sugars may be eaten in moderation by people with diabetes but there is no advantage to those with diabetes in using one type of sugar over another.
Coconut sugar is also called palm sugar and comes from the dehydrated sap of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar may contain some trace minerals found in the coconut palm like iron, zinc, magnesium and B-Vitamins. These nutrients support good health, but coconut sugar does not contain enough of them per serving to offer a measurable benefit. Coconut sugar also contains inulin, a type of soluble fibre. Fibre is a more complex type of carbohydrate and it slows down the absorption of the sweetener which is linked to a lower risk of blood sugar spikes. Coconut sugar may impart a nutty flavor and is recommended as a substitute for brown sugar in food preparation.
Date sugar is simply dried dates ground into a fine powder. Date sugar has the trace nutrients found in whole dates, including potassium, calcium, and antioxidants. The fibre in a teaspoon of date sugar is nutritionally insignificant. The main drawback to date sugar is that it doesn’t melt or dissolve completely in water, so its uses are somewhat limited. Replacing brown sugar in recipes, such as banana bread and bar cookies, or sprinkling some on yogurt or fruit are suggested uses.
Bottom line: If you prefer to use coconut sugar or date sugar, go ahead and enjoy it. But remember it’s really just like eating another type of sugar. It provides just as many calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar: about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon. All added sugars should only be used in moderation. Speak to a dietitian about your personal nutrition questions.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Today’s Dietitian, Diabetes Canada
New food labels are coming and for the first time, you’ll see a Daily Value (DV) for “Sugars”. Health Canada has set a DV of 100 grams for total sugars. This includes sugars naturally found in foods such as fruits, veggies and unsweetened milk products, plus the sugars added to foods and the sugars found in foods like honey and maple syrup. Packaged foods with a Nutrition Facts table will now show the “Sugars” content as a percent of the 100 grams Daily Value (%DV).
But do most Canadians know where the sugars are in their foods?
After two years of public consultations, Health Canada has finalized the changes to the Nutrition Facts table and ingredients list on packaged foods. On December 14th, 2016, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health announced that these changes are all part of the strategy to help make healthy food choices the easy choice for all Canadians.
Here’s a quick at-a-glance comparison of the old versus the new Nutrition Facts table as well as Ingredients lists.
The new Nutrition Facts table places a greater emphasis on calories, potassium, calcium and iron. For the first time ever, total sugars will have a % Daily Value (%DV) set at 100 grams:
All food colours will now be listed by their name rather than collectively listed as “colours”:
Different types of sugars will still be individually identified, and will now also be grouped together as “Sugars”:
The food industry has 5 years (until 2021) to make these changes, but you may start seeing new labels as early as next year.
Contact us at: Info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com for more information about these label changes and to discuss how the proposed regulatory changes to front-of-package labelling will impact your business.
On June 12th, Health Canada shared a proposed Nutrition Facts table aimed to improve nutrition information on food labels. As part of the consultation process you are invited to provide comments in writing to Health Canada by August 26, 2015. This is the right time to get involved let your voice be heard! In general, the proposed changes are as follows:
Serving sizes will be regulated to make them consistent and reflect what is typically eaten (e.g. a serving of bread will be 2 slices instead of 1 slice)
The information about serving sizes and calories will be more prominent
Sugars will have a new % Daily Value (%DV) of 100 grams and sugars will be grouped together in the ingredients list
The %DV for carbohydrates will be removed
A footnote will appear at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts table to explain that 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot
Food colours will be identified by their common name in the list of ingredients
A new health claim will be allowed, “A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of heart disease”
Vitamins A and C will be removed from the Nutrition Facts table, and potassium will be added
The actual amounts in milligrams (mg) of potassium, calcium and iron will now be shown in addition to their % DV
Contact us if you would like to discuss the interpretation of the proposed label changes and how they may impact your business. We can also assist with your comments to Health Canada during the consultation phase which ends August 26, 2015.