So, you’re looking for something sweet to eat, and a colorful bag of hard candy catches your eye. The bag is brightly colored with pictures of ripe strawberries and green apples…it looks inviting! Just across the aisle in the store is the produce section, with bins filled with ripe apples of various colors and types. Both of these items contain sugar that will provide you with the sweet flavor that you are looking for right now, but which one will you choose and does it matter?
Let’s take a look at what’s inside each of these items to find out which might be the better choice…
A Green Apple
A green apple contains macronutrients such as carbohydrates for cellular energy and trace amounts of protein and fat.
It also contains an array of micronutrients, such as potassium which is important for normal water and acid-base balance in the body, as well as regulation of neuromuscular activity and promotion of cell growth.
Apples also contain smaller amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, niacin, B5, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and minerals in addition to potassium such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, and zinc. In addition to these basic nutrients, apples contain over twenty documented bioactive constituents, or parts, such as quercetin and chlorogenic acid, two important antioxidants.
The high fiber content of the apple helps to maintain bowel health, can aid in lowering cholesterol levels, and has been found to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. The soluble fiber, pectin, found in apples has been associated with improving blood sugar levels as it slows the absorption of sugar.
At approximately 80% water, apples provide a source of hydration for the body.
Many of the above mentioned “parts” of the apple have been studied and associated with other benefits such as a reduction of the plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease patients, protection against periodontal infections that affect the teeth, aiding in weight loss, and have also been associated with the suppression of certain cancers.
Jolly Rancher Green Apple Candy
A Jolly Rancher green apple candy contains sugar (sucrose or any simple sugar), corn syrup (glucose syrup = more sugar), malic acid (to enhance the flavor), sodium lactate (a food additive that acts as a preservative to improve shelf-life and control the acid level of the product), “natural” and artificial flavors, artificial color, and lecithin (which comes from soy (soya), rice, sunflower, and/or eggs).
The fact that sugar and corn syrup are the first two ingredients on the Ingredient List indicates that these are the most abundant ingredients of this product. So, when you choose a serving of this product you are consuming 11 grams of sugar and 15 mg of sodium with no other nutrients, according to The Hershey Company. These types of refined sugars have been linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease, among other diseases.
Let’s take a further look into the other ingredients…
Malic acid is a tart-tasting organic dicarboxylic acid that occurs naturally in many fruits such as apples and grapes. Malic acid consumption has been linked to reduced muscle soreness and pain, increased energy levels and can benefit the skin as it raises pH and helps to facilitate healthy exfoliating.
Sodium lactate is a natural salt derived from lactic acid produced by the fermentation of sugar from a natural source, such as corn or beets and provides antimicrobial properties. Sodium lactate is commonly used as a food additive and in cosmetics as a preservative, exfoliant, and humectant, which reduces the loss of moisture.
The United States FDA defines “natural” and artificial flavors as: “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors, include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants listed in subpart A of part 582 of this chapter, and the substances listed in 172.510 of this chapter.” “The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.”
So, “natural” flavor, according to the FDA, may originate from a plant, animal, or in a lab and can be just about anything that provides flavor. In addition, “natural” flavor is a term that is currently unregulated and undefined in the food industry. In the United States, the FDA and USDA define “natural” differently, and neither agency has adopted an official definition which makes it impossible to determine whether a product marked “natural” on the label contains any artificial ingredients or flavorings.
Artificial flavors are linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, depression of the nervous system, headaches, nausea, dizziness and DNA damage, among other adverse reactions.
Artificial color is made from petroleum and is used to enhance the color of processed foods. Artificial coloring has been linked as a trigger for asthma, hives, atopic dermatitis, angioedema, or deep tissue swelling, and rhinitis which is inflammation of the mucous lining of the nose. In addition, artificial colors have been found to increase hyperactivity rates in children.
Lecithin is a fatty substance that contains phosphorus which is used commercially in foods, cosmetics, paint, and plastic for its ability to form emulsions that enable two liquids that ordinarily will not mix, like oil and water, to now mix. Lecithin consumption has been associated with atopic dermatitis, hives, asthma, chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
It may seem absurd to you that I am comparing two items such as the Green Apple, whole food that contains nutrients which support our body’s proper growth and maintenance, and the Jolly Rancher Green Apple Candy which contains little to no benefit to the body and contributes to creating risks for various health-related diseases.
However, I chose to make this comparison because I often see, even in my own family, when given a choice many people, especially children, will choose the brightly colored wrapped candy over the ripe green apple, and I wondered why that was the case.
There is research today surrounding the addictability of refined sugars. Research conducted over the past ten years has found that refined sugars are more addictive than cocaine.
Further, studies suggest that the overconsumption of sugar, which is commonplace in America today, may produce neurobiological and behavioral alterations that evoke behaviors like bingeing and can even produce withdrawal symptoms as do other addictive substance like cocaine.
So, when we understand the addictive nature of the refined sugars that are found in food items such as the Jolly Rancher Green Apple Candy, we are equipped with information that can help us to make the better choice. And perhaps the next time we find ourselves standing in the aisle with that choice, we will choose the whole Green Apple over the Jolly Rancher Green Apple Candy.
Proverbs 18:17 “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
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Jolly Rancher Candy
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