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A writer for CLM Magazine and CLM Social Pages, Achelle is also an independent blogger, giving her two cents on personal and social issues from an educated Filipina's point of view, especially those relating to love and relationships. She has a knack for tackling issues from unique angles that are often left unexplored, posing questions that move and challenge readers to view a certain issue from a wholly different perspective. Achelle is happily engaged to her childhood sweetheart and is currently based in the Philippines. Achelle's writing is a delight to read and highly enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking. You're going to see lots of her on our Emagazine, Blogs, Social Pages and Hubs. Enjoy
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Yes, Filipino Food Sucks, Too!    

By Achelle Vinzon
5234 Views | 2 Comments | 7/6/2013 4:01:44 PM

Filipino food is generally loaded with sugar.

Admittedly, Filipino food culture is not as distinguished and diverse as Chinese food culture, nor is it as lavishly abundant as American food culture. But the tendency for any food culture to become unhealthy is the great equalizer.

Filipino food is heavily flavored with Spanish influence; Chinese infusion into the local food culture is also very evident. In recent decades, they have also developed a certain degree of American taste when it comes to eating. As an archipelago teeming with natural resources, both from the land and the sea, Filipinos have always found it easy to adopt foreign appetites and spice up our eating habits. Of course, they don’t always discriminate between what’s healthy and what’s not; as long as their palate and stomach agree with it, they’ll absorb it into their collective hunger.

Whatever they adopt, they also make distinctly Filipino to appeal more to our tastes, and one of the ways they do this is by making the food sweeter. They don’t just have sweets for dessert; they sweeten almost every dish, whether it’s a meat, seafood, or vegetable dish. It does not matter if it’s fresh, grilled, fried, broiled, or is soup-based. Their sweet tooth needs to be satisfied!

The inability to resist a sweet temptation is not unique to Filipinos; a sweet tooth does not discriminate among races; it affects everyone equally. Unlike most other peoples, though, Filipinos don’t just have the usual midnight craving for a chocolate cake or some ice cream; their sweet temptation is not just limited to sodas, juices, and processed foods. They literally add sugar to almost everything they eat. The Filipinos’ sugar binging tendencies have also become a part of their cooking and food preparation practices.

Health experts have repeatedly pointed out that sugar is addictive; some have even said that it has the same effects on the brain as cocaine. Processed sugar in food comes in many forms. In the west, it mostly comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup – a common ingredient in many processed foods. But the sugar addiction of Filipinos commonly comes in the form of, well, table sugar or refined and unrefined sugar (white and brown sugar).

Filipino pork barbecue is sweet and is served with a sweet sauce. A favorite delicacy, “Tocino” (the Spanish word for bacon) or Filipino sweet ham, is pork meat cured mostly in sugar. Another native delicacy is the “Kakanin,” or rice cakes, which is also sweetened and is a favorite snack food (one particular rice cake, the “suman,” is commonly eaten by dipping it in sugar or condensed milk). Filipino-style spaghetti is sweet. Many Spanish dishes that the Filipinos have inherited have also evolved into sugar-laden versions of the original. Filipinos preserve fruits and legumes in sugar; there’s the macapuno preserve (strips of coconut meat in syrup), sweet chickpeas (chickpeas in syrup), and sweet white beans (white beans in syrup). The “banana cue” (caramelized plantains on a stick) and “camote cue” (caramelized sweet potatoes on a stick) are common street foods.

The most common side effects of excessive sugar intake are weight gain/obesity and diabetes. Surprisingly, obesity is not as bad a problem in the Philippines as it is in the United States, but it does also exist in the country. The difference in the prevalence of obesity between the two countries can be attributed to many other factors that contribute to obesity; for example, Filipinos don’t supersize everything they eat. Diabetes, however, is another story; the disease is widespread among Filipinos but this does not make them lighten up on the sweet stuff. (I have to point out, however, that sugar per se does not lead to diabetes, but it contributes to the development and worsening of the disease.)

Too much sugar consumption also often means that the body is deprived of other more important nutrients, which may lead to poor nutrition especially in children. Some experts believe that high sugar intake may also increase a person’s risk for heart disease. And, of course, sugar is the main culprit in tooth decay.

Filipinos are known for always having a happy disposition. Could it be because they’re always on a sugar high?

(While writing this, I was snacking on meringue.)

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#2013-07-06 18:58:22 by jade01 @jade01

its very interesting article. Too much sugar is unhealthy, but maybe not as bad as using illegal cooking oil. I wonder how many Chinese people really worry about it. And how much they care.

#2013-07-07 00:14:29 by twhite725 @twhite725

An article about the good, bad and ugly of Filipino food but you did not mention balut or ube ice cream. There are natural sweet foods like macapuno but unfortunately almost always served in syrup with added sugar. I think I read at one time that "blooming onions" an Aussie restaurant food were the most unhealthy of any cuisine or country. I nominate Quebec poutine for that notorious honor.

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