Always being one to at least consider an apparent bargain, I stopped by the cooler where Philadelphia cream cheese was being sold in a ‘two for one’ offer. Sadly, the full-fat variety was not included in the offer, but I checked out the medium fat one just in case. I was shocked!
Amongst the ingredients listed, we find ‘Glucose and Fructose Syrup’ (sugar) and ‘Modified Starch’ (a sugar in all but name). Of course, there will be some natural sugar (lactose) in cheese, but it’s proportional.
Why is sugar added?
Why is there sugar in this ‘9.8% Fat Soft Cheese with Spring Onion and Black Pepper’?
There are two probabilities:
1. It’s a cheap ingredient that can be used to bulk out the product
2. It’s been put in to add the taste and texture that was taken out when the fat was removed
Why is sugar a problem?
Added sugars can cause numerous problems. Put simply:
1. Sugar gives energy, nothing more. It contains no nutrients and the body uses up valuable nutrients to digest the sugar and to help mitigate its harmful effects.
2. Sugar can contribute to gut inflammation, fatty liver and more.
3. Fat in itself is not fattening. However, when eaten in the presence of sugar, it can be stored as fat. When sugar (in the form of glucose) is present in the blood, it is used up before the fat, and any excess is stored as glycogen and fat. The insulin released when sugar is eaten allows cells to store fat.
4. The fructose part of the sugar can only be processed by the liver. When eaten in small amounts in the presence of fibre (such as in a small handful of whole berries), the liver can cope*.
*Large quantities of fructose (as part of added sweeteners) overwhelm the liver, and the fructose is turned into fat which is either stored in the liver (contributing to the dangerous fatty liver disease) or released into the blood stream in carriers.
Yes, that’s right, the sugar is causing more fat in the blood than fat does! Some fructose is not digested and gut bacteria feed on it, releasing gases and causing bloating.
What to do?
Still want your spring onion and black pepper cream cheese? Buy the full fat variety (21.5% fat, which is about a third less fat than in mature cheddar), pop it into a bowl and beat with a spoon: it soon turns slightly thinner and you can stir in your own chopped onion and pepper with ease.
And please don’t buy the medium or low fat varieties you see here: