Porridge is considered extremely healthy and enjoys great popularity. However, sugar is added to many ready-made products. This article explains why this is not ideal, what sugar alternatives are available and what the perfect porridge preparation for a healthy and sugar-reduced breakfast looks like.
Porridge, as it is also called, has always been a popular breakfast. While it was initially a traditional breakfast in Scotland, it has become a real trend in recent years.
There are many reasons for its popularity. One great advantage of breakfast is that it is uncomplicated and quick to prepare.
What do you need for it? Just oat flakes and water or milk. You can heat the mixture on the cooker, in the microwave or simply let the oat flakes steep in hot water. Whatever you choose, it’s quick. The basic recipe is ready in about three minutes, so it’s suitable even for morning grouches.
By heating the oatmeal, you not only give it a tasty texture, but also make it easier to digest. There are other reasons why hot breakfasts are so healthy. It increases bioavailability, reduces hunger and strengthens your immune system.
All this makes porridge extremely healthy. In particular, the main ingredient, mostly oat flakes or oat bran, is full of healthy nutrients. Complex carbohydrates, digestive fibre and healthy fatty acids are just some of the healthy nutrients in oat flakes. But the popular cereal also offers vital micronutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin E, iron and magnesium. The high content of beta-glucans, to which an effect on the cholesterol level is attributed, is also worth mentioning.
Beta-glucan is a soluble dietary fibre. This means that it forms a bond with water and thus swells. In the human body, this ensures healthy intestinal flora and stimulates digestion.
In addition, beta-glucan from oats is said to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. This is because the dietary fibre can bind acids in the intestine and improve the utilisation of cholesterol in the liver. Both of these factors result in lower cholesterol levels in the blood. This in turn is considered important especially in the prevention of heart disease.
In addition, beta-glucans, like soluble dietary fibres in general, delay gastric emptying. This has been shown to reduce the insulin response. Beta-glucan thus counteracts an excessive rise in blood sugar and can contribute to the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Just three grams of the soluble dietary fibre are enough to benefit from the health advantages. Thanks to the oat flakes, 50 grams of porridge already provide around 1.7 grams of beta-glucan – this already covers more than half of the daily requirement!
As we have now seen, porridge is rightly considered healthy. At least if we look at the basic recipe. But what about when sugar is added, as often happens in the food industry?
If sugar is added to porridge, it not only changes the taste, but also the physiological effect on the body. Blood sugar rises more quickly and, in the worst case, leads to food cravings – even a short time after the breakfast that was supposed to fill us up.
The dietary fibres in oats can weaken the effect of sugar somewhat, but this is not sufficient for a healthy insulin response. It is therefore all the more important to avoid sugary porridges as much as possible.
The question remains: How can I recognise porridge without added sugar? What do the indications on products such as sugar-free, low-sugar and no added sugar mean?
In short, sugar-free means that the sugar content of a product must not exceed 0.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams. This label is often used for soft drinks sweetened with calorie-free sweeteners.
Low sugar, on the other hand, means that the corresponding product may contain a maximum of five grams of sugar per 100 grams. For drinks, this limit is already reached at 2.5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.
One speaks of sugar-reduced when a product contains at least 30 percent less sugar than comparable products. It is therefore a relative matter and is not synonymous with low sugar.
Last but not least, there are the labels “no added sugar” and “naturally contains sugar”. The first label describes mostly unprocessed foods to which no additional sugar has been added. This means that neither classic industrial sugar nor other sweeteners such as honey or syrup have been used.
The category “naturally contains sugar” is again mostly used when referring to foods that contain sugar in their natural form. For example, no industrial sugar is added to an apple, yet it has a sugar content of around 10 grams per 100 grams.
However, this is due to the fructose it contains. Since apples naturally contain fructose, their physiological effect is not comparable to that of added sugar. In addition to fructose, apples contain natural fibre and other nutrients that reduce the effect of fructose on blood sugar.
Unlike naturally occurring fructose, industrial sugar has no attenuating counterpart. Too much sugar causes a rollercoaster ride in blood sugar levels and promotes a wide variety of common diseases. Type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, heart disease and even less serious but costly conditions such as tooth decay are associated with high sugar consumption.
Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, maltitol or xylitol are popular substitutes for industrial sugar in the food industry. Although they do not significantly affect blood sugar levels and do not lead to tooth decay, they do have some disadvantages. Some sugar substitutes are suspected of having an adverse effect on metabolism, intestinal flora and appetite.
So it is all the better that there is a third category besides industrial sugar and sugar substitutes. These are natural sweeteners. We are talking about dates, fresh or freeze-dried fruits or even honey. This is because all these foods occur in a compound – which means that in addition to the natural sugar content, they always contain important nutrients such as fibre and micronutrients. This means that the blood sugar level rises less, the intestinal flora is strengthened and the appetite is satisfied in the long term.
If you look at the basic recipe of porridge, you will notice that apart from water, oat flakes and salt, there is nothing in it. The taste is therefore also rather neutral.
That is why it is all the more important to integrate flavour-intensive foods into the porridge. The oat flakes themselves already bring a slightly nutty flavour. The salt acts as a natural flavour enhancer, which makes the food in the recipe stand out more. Other spices such as cinnamon round off the porridge perfectly.
Particularly important for a tasty porridge is a healthy source of fat on the one hand, and fruit as a natural sweetener and nutrient supplier on the other. You can use seeds or nuts, for example, as a flavour-bearing fat source – whether pure or processed into a puree. Fresh fruit is a natural sweetener, as is freeze-dried fruit.
Try out a few of the natural sweeteners and find your favourite creation 😉 The best way to sweeten is to use a natural sweetener.
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