There is a lot of confusion about what to use as a sweetener, I hope this blog post will clarify some of those questions and help you make informed decision on when and when not to add sweeteners to you food or beverage without sacrificing your quality of life. Sugar is a carbohydrate and the primary function of a carbohydrate is to provide energy to the cells of the body, particularly the brain, and spare muscle protein from being used for fuel.The fact is all natural sweeteners are high in Kcal, all sweeteners will cause a spike in blood sugar, if that spike comes at the wrong time then the excess carbohydrate will be converted into fat, and worse it will stress your internal organs that control your bodies metabolic functions. If this happens a lot then you’re going to get fat and it will put wear and tear on you shortening your life span.
This blog post will focus on the glycemic index, other nutrients, and how they are processed as its foundation. A glycemic index of 55 or below is low and is considered a “healthier choice”, while a GI of 70 or above should be avoided. Medium-GI foods, with a GI between 56 and 69, are recommended to be consumed with moderation.
Okay Let’s Just Get the Obvious Out of the Way Artifical Sweeteners & High Fructose Corn Syrup
- ALL Artifical Sweeteners should never, ever, never, ever, never, never be consumed this includes Truvia and Purevia. They are toxic plain and simple, if you ask the question should I have a diet soda over a regular soda with high fructose corn syrup the answer is drink the regular soda every time. Though you are asking should I consume poison or a worse poison. There are sodas with organic cane sugar.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: GI=87
In the USA sugar prices are many times higher than the rest of the world due to tariffs, government quotas on the production of sugar and corn subsidies; que chemist to make high fructose corn syrup. Health professionals contribute high fructose corn syrup with obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Additionally, the use of hydrochloric acid in the processing of corn syrup has given rise to speculations that high fructose corn syrup is a source of inorganic mercury.
- Steva: GI=0
Steva, not to be confused with truvia, is the best healthy sugar alternative. Though it is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar, stevia is not a sugar. Stevia has had its ups and downs in the industry it was banned in the 1990s, the FDA’s stated reason was “toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety.” Umm…do you know how many products are sold in this country which fail to demonstrates safety? Anyway there are a lot of speculations that the conclusion of the FDA was made under pressure from the artificial sweetener, and high fructose corn syrup producers. Pure Stevia cannot be purchased as a food additive but as a supplement, look for extract.
Refined Sugar, Organic Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, & Sucanat
- Refined Table Sugar: GI=80
Refined Table Sugar is most likely conventionally grown using fertilizers, and pesticides. a\Additionally, refined table sugar is most likely not from cane sugar but from sugar beets which are most likely Genetically Modified Organisms. The chemically processing of sugar stripes it of all beneficial properties, many health advocates believe that refined sugar is one of the two leading causes, high fructose corn syrup being the other, of nearly every health ailment known to man. Not only does it have a high GI ranking, but it also is extremely acidic to the body causing calcium and other mineral depletion from bones and organs.
- USDA Organic Sugar: GI=47
Organic sugar comes from sugar cane that is not genetically modified, it’s grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. It is usually darker than traditional white sugar because it contains some molasses. It has been processed, but not to the degree of refined sugar, and it will contain some nutritional vitamins and minerals naturally found in sugar cane.
- Turbinado Sugar: GI=65
Turbinado Sugar has been made popular by the brand Sugar in the Raw. On a side note the “Raw” in that brand name is really misleading, but that is another blog post for another day. Turbinado sugar is what’s left after sugar cane juice has been stripped of its natural molasses and impurities, as well as its vitamins, minerals and other trace elements. Though it is processed it is not processed as much as refined table sugar, or organic sugar.
- Sucanat: GI=65
If you are looking for the least of all processed granulated sugars from sugar cane pick sucanat. This stuff is simply dehydrated sugar cane juice. It will have a strong molasses flavor and will retain its trace elements and vitamins. However, the amount of vitamins and minerals are nutritionally insignificant, as in all cane sugar. But, I guess something is better than nothing.
- Coconut Sugar: GI=35
Coconut Sugar is made from dehydrating the sap of a coconut tree. It contains trace amounts of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. Key word there is “trace”, it does not cause quite the blood sugar spike that cane sugar causes so makes it a good alternative, but it does come with a hefty price.
- Agave Nectar: GI=15-30
“Sigh.” A lot of people think that since agave is fructose (fruit sugar) it is healthy, I was one. The truth is refined fructose is no better than refined glucose. Consuming fructose in its natural state in fruit is different than consuming concentrated nectar. Agave nectar lowers circulating insulin putting a strain on the liver, basically the liver goes bananas and stops everything else to metabolize the sugar. Large amounts of fructose in the diet rapidly turn into fat or released into the bloodstream as triglycerides. These fatty triglycerides are insulin resistant and cause a host of problems. Overwhelming the liver and producing insulin resistant fatty triglycerides is the road to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases. Yet another example of fantastic marketing. Agave is sold as the healthy alternative to refined sugar, but it is refined sugar. Avoid it like you avoid refined white table sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
- Brown Rice Syrup: GI=100
You’ll find Brown Rice Syrup in energy bars, energy gels, energy drinks, and pretty much any other “energy” branded food. The deal is most of these products were initially developed for hikers, and endurance athletes. I am an endurance athlete, so brown rice syrup has a place in my life. Immediately before, during, and after an intense bout of exercise. And when I say intense I mean intense, like hill running for at least 90 minutes. Any other time I avoid brown rice syrup.
- Raw Honey: GI=30
Raw honey is considered a super food by many alternative health care practitioners with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients. Use in place of syrups and sugars when ever possible. Personally I suffer from allergies super bad I started using raw honey, just because it taste good. That winter I did not get sick, and that spring I did not suffer from allergies at all it is now a daily commodity.
- Maple Syrup: GI=54
Maple syrup is collected from maple trees in March and April, and then boiled down. It is nutritious, and much more so than most other syrups, but there are other healthier alternatives to use; on your waffles try out raw honey, you might be surprised how much you like it.
Q: What sweetener to use, and when?
A: There are a few answers, here are my recommendations.
- Avoid artificial sweetness and high fructose corn syrup like the plague.
- Avoid granulated sugar, if possible. There is something to say about quality of life though if you make some baked goods use sucant or cocunut sugar in lieu of brown sugar. These sugars do come with a price tag if you don’t want to dish out the cash for trace elements always try to go with organic sugar. Replacement in recipes is 1:1
- When ever possible use raw honey it is a super food, you can use it in sauces, brines, baking, ect. Put it on your toast, pancakes, and waffles. Replacement in recipes is 1:1.
- What is a good time to consume sugar? Immediately before (with in 15 minutes), during, and following (with in 15 minutes) an intense workout.
- What matters? Moderation, simple, think about what you eat. Sugar is diabolical; it tastes great is less filling and addictive. Back off on the beer, sugary soft drinks, sport drinks, and baked goods. When you need to use sugar replace them with a lower GI Rating Sweet, when ever you can use raw honey to sweeten you food. Less is more.