The real take on sugar intake

Similar to a drug, carbohydrates release opiate-like chemicals that increase pleasure responses. The simple sugars, however, incite the response more intensely.

by Dorothy Krupnick, M.S.R.D. — 

Walking down the supermarket aisles to shop for a healthy dessert will baffle any consumer who is new to nutrition and health awareness. There are cake and pudding mixes, prepared cookie dough and the like.

As consumers, we are bombarded with the concept of simple carbohydrates versus complex carbohydrates. We are told that sugars are the bad carbs and complex carbs are the good carbs. Well, neither is good or bad — but complex carbs are better.

For example, sugar is one type of carbohydrate. Simple sugars include honey, white sugar, corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, and brown sugar and are found in many products. This is a good reason to read your labels. These simple sugars rapidly increase blood sugar levels within the bloodstream and can result in a quick low and fatigue. A good rule of thumb regarding product ingredients is, if the first or second ingredient is a simple sugar, then the product may have more sugar than you bargained for.

Similar to a drug, carbohydrates release opiate-like chemicals that increase pleasure responses. The simple sugars, however, incite the response more intensely. The pancreas releases too much insulin into the bloodstream and creates an increase in blood sugars over time. However, it’s possible to overdo both types of carbohydrates and create an elevated glucose state in the body. Simple sugars tend to create their dangerous magic more quickly in the body when this eating pattern is repeated over and over again.

Complex carbohydrates include all vegetables (plants) and grains (like oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice, beans, brown rice syrup and lentils). The carrots in your carrot cake are a good source of complex carbohydrate within a dessert, as is an oatmeal crisp made with seasonal fruit. This type of carbohydrate has staying power in the bloodstream and offers more energy for the body to use.

During my many years as a caterer in New York City, I discovered some excellent recipes for desserts containing these complex carbohydrates that are both healthy and delicious. Incorporate complex carbs for happy and healthy glucose levels. Enjoy!

Apple Szarlotka

This Polish recipe, similar to a New England apple buckle, incorporates apples, oatmeal and whole-wheat flour. It has soluble fiber from apples and oatmeal, which lowers your cholesterol, unsaturated fat from canola oil and whole-wheat flour for fiber.


  • 6 apples cored, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cook oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 350°. Mix apples with apple juice, 1/3 cup brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon. Set aside. Then mix eggs, almond extract, milk and canola oil together. Combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda and powder with the egg and oil mixture. Add apples, raisins and sugar mixture. Mix until all are combined and pour into a greased or non-stick 9” baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup of brown sugar on the top. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Cut and serve with low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream.


Orange Peel and Spice Granola with Almonds

This is a delicious treat for breakfast or as a dessert with frozen yogurt. Orange peel contains pectin, a carbohydrate that increases intestinal health. Heperidin, a molecule in orange peel, is being researched at the USDA for lowering cholesterol. Never throw the peel away!

Candied Orange Peel ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • Peel of 1 orange, cut into thin slices


Bring water to boil and add sugar. Allow all sugar crystals to melt into a syrup for four minutes (until it coats the spoon). Add orange peel strips and cook in syrup for five minutes. Drain on wax paper. Allow to air dry for three to four hours. Dice orange peel.

Granola ingredients:

  • 8-10 cups whole oats
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Candied peel of 1 orange (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds


Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all together and pour onto a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Cool and serve; store in an air-tight container.


Dorothy Krupnick, a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, is employed at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center and counsels patients on medical nutrition therapy. She owned Gourmet Catering Inc. in New York City and now provides private cooking classes and diet counseling. 480-219-1731.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 3, June/July 2006.

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