Can birds or parrots have sugar?
If you google this you will read yes and no based on different exemptions or ideas
So I decided to do my research. For those who don’t know me, I have a molecular biology degree from Simon Fraser University and have done many research papers. I am also a co-author of a research paper that is published. If you know about PubMed, just search my name.
First of all, I think I need to distinguish between natural and unnatural sugar and the definition of a toxic substance. There are a few people who believe sugar isn't a toxic substance and others who believe it should be on the toxic list.
Toxic substance: causing or capable of causing death or illness if taken into the body.
Natural sugar: is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. These are safe because your body slowly digests them into steady energy. The fiber, minerals, and proteins in plant food help to maintain a healthy diet and lower the risk of diabetes and chronic illness.
Unnatural sugar: Sugar that is added to food for flavor or self-life.
fruit juice concentrates
high-fructose corn syrup
syrup sugar molecules ending in "ose" (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).
What are the effects of unnatural sugars on the body?
Obesity, Diabetes, fatty liver disease, chronic inflammation, weight gain, heart health.
Since unnatural sugars can cause harmful chronic diseases, that is considered toxic substance. Just because adding sugars is common, doesn't mean it's safe or that it's no longer a toxic substance.
How is sugar hidden in parrot foods?
This is where things got interesting. Companies, for human food and pets, are allowed to say "no sugar added" if they didn't add white sugar. However by reading this article you now know, there are many different types of unnatural sugar, it's not just white sugar. Honey, different syrups, agave, and anything ending in -ose, are all unnatural sugars that companies can add to their foods but still have a "no sugar added" label. OMG, I know.
Another unnatural sugar that most people overlook is dry fruits. Dried fruits are much higher in sugar and have a higher glycemic index compared to fresh fruit. This makes sense, fresh fruit is natural sugars but dry fruit has become unnatural sugar because of the changes in the process of drying the fruits.
What about freezer-dry fruit?
Freezer dry fruit has more sugar content than fresh food but less than dry fruit. The problem is that fiber gets lost in the rehydration process and therefore can cause a spike in sugar.
For comparison, I went to nutz.com and looked up cranberries' nutritional values for dry fruit, and freezer dry and then googled ocean spray cranberries for their fresh cranberries' nutritional values. Here's what I found for 40g of cranberries:
Cranberries (40g) Calories Carbs Fiber Sugar
Dry 140 35g 2g 32g
Freeze Dry 140 36g 12g 24g
Fresh 20 4.8g 1.6g 1.6g
Freeze Dry(no sugar) 100 27g 7g 7g
(edit: After posting the article I found dry cranberries with no sugar added. Link below in citation)
What should you take from this graph?
Fresh food is the healthiest, and plant food can’t be replaced. Just look at the numbers. Dry and Freeze dry are high in calories, and sugars when compared to fresh cranberries.
So now, we know the different types of unnatural sugars and the difference between natural sugars in plant food vs unnatural sugars which are added to food. Most importantly, if it says “no sugar added” it doesn’t mean no unnatural sugar was added. Any type of dry fruit is high in calories and sugar.
What should you take from this article?Information. The more you know, you can apply it to your research.
What do I do?
I make my own seed mix because the ones you buy all have artificial colors, vitamins added, or dry fruit, all of which are toxic to Eclectus parrots. I do use some birdie bread with freezer-dry fruit, but since it has oats, is high in fiber, and other plant foods, I'm okay with it being a treat.
I don't give any juices to my parrots, they can have herbal tea, no sugar added, of any form.
Should you give your parrot food with unnatural sugars?
That's for you to decide. I can only say what I do in our sanctuary. I can provide people with information to help them come to their own conclusion. PDS parrot shop has bird food products free of sugars, salts, and any other preservatives. Check them out here: https://pdsparrotshop.com/collections/healthy-parrot-food
This article was written by Monika Sangar, to inform, so you know and understand what you are giving yourself and your parrots. Knowledge is key. Information is only for people who want to know and understand what is the best food for you and your parrot. How you deal with this information is up to you.
Author: Monika Sangar
Co-founder of Prego Dalliance Sanctuary, Artisan of PDS Parrot Shop
PDS Blog presented by PDS Parrot Shop
Monika Sangar, the co-founder of Prego Dalliance Sanctuary, a 501c3 non-profit organization, uses these blogs to share her hands-on experience with parrots.
She is a designer and artisan at PDS Parrot Shop, and her craft can be viewed below. (click on icon)