The Old Fashioned Sugar
Now let’s talk about sugar. The consumption of sugar has a lot to do with you if you wanted to lose weight.
If you were a sugar lover I highly suggest staying tuned and my purpose is to clarify the misconceptions of sugar and the negative side of it.
For many years I have not had my coffee nor my tea with sugar of any kind whether it is white, brown, light brown, or any of those sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners as packet sugars. Not even honey.
I Am Already Sweet as Sugar
When I eat oatmeal, I do not have any sugar or milk, or cream with it. Just cook it with plain water and that’s it. Some of my friends could not bear the thought that I do eat like that.
But hey, this is me and that’s how I like it. Plus, you don’t necessarily have to sweeten up everything you put in your mouth. Thus, helping us how to break a sugar addiction.
Then they would ask me why do I eat this or that without sugar. I only have one answer to that and that is, ‘Because I am already sweet as sugar.” And they would start laughing.
For me it is true and I do know that I don’t need any of those so-called sweeteners that damage your system more than help it.
One of my girlfriends puts three spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee and that’s how she wants it. Now, that’s her and I have no business correcting her with it as she is an adult. She knows what she is doing.
Plus would you like anybody to tell you what to do with your coffee or anything you eat or drink? I don’t think so. So don’t you dare say anything about it if you wanted your friendship to last.
Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you resources, like this. In order to do this, please note that whenever you click the link in my posts and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission.
What Is The Benefit Of Sugar?
A lot of food that we consumed every day is heavily bombarded with sugar. What more is the fact that we have tons of what you called sugar substitutes available to us in a variety of different categories.
Now the question is that do you really have to use these sugar alternatives and thinking they are better than sugar? If so, do you know which one is better for you?
Do you realize that sugar is the number one food ingredient with no or has the least nutritional value and yet more and more people cannot live without them?
Maybe you were thinking about the sweet taste that is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. No. I’m talking about the real sugar, added sugars the plain old white sugar that we consume every day.
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Also, don’t forget its partner. Do you know what that is? The high-fructose corn syrup.
There is really nothing about sugar that is beneficial, none at all. And then you ask why do we eat sugar more than we should. It is because of its flavor.
The sweet flavor of sugar which we crave to satisfy our taste buds.
Most people prefer the sweet taste to sour, bitter or bland. I like sour food too and I can eat a lemon as if it was an orange but I still like my sweets.
How Much Sugar Does One Have To Take?
The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine per day for men.
But the average American consumes 94 grams every day. That is a lot for me.
Sugar substitutes attract consumers because they’re labeled as being naturally derived, or calorie-free, or simply because they’re not sugar.
That is even more reason not to take them. The sugar manufacturers of course have one motive and they are operating a business
Why Sugar is Not Healthy Food.
Most processed food that companies advertise as healthy, such as cereals, granola bars, crackers, and juices have added sugar. Oh, do not forget your loving sodas.
Do you know that one 12-ounce can of coke contains 9.75 teaspoons, or 39 grams, of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup? Wow! Just imagine that.
But Guess What?
The top-ranked among popular soda brands in America is Mountain Dew, which has 3.83 grams of sugar per fl. oz., bringing a 12 fl. oz. can to a whopping 46 grams of sugar.
So, now you know. Some of you will still drink them even though you already knew but as I said before, I would not tell you what to do. You can think for yourself.
I am just here to give you the important information hoping it would enlighten you up and think more about it before it is too late.
Right now, we have at least 61 different names for sugar from cane juice to anhydrous dextrose that is why we don’t even know which one to use. Sugar is rampant in our food system. That is why common sense is the key here.
If you knew that it is not for your own highest good why still do it knowing eating too much of it is linked to many significant health concerns.
Risks in Taking Too Much Sugar
- Consuming excessive sugar is associated with an increased risk of obesity and heart disease.
- Sugar increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Studies indicate that added sugar increases the risk for esophageal and breast cancer. And added fructose intake may increase the risk of pancreatic and small intestine cancers.
- Sugar increases the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a disorder in which excessive amounts of fat build up in your liver. Even drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage per day can increase your risk.
Refined sugar isn’t an essential part of the diet. It doesn’t contain vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, or protein, nor does it have any benefit to the body.
It would do your health no harm (and probably a lot of good) if you never consumed a gram of refined sugar.
Furthermore, it reduces the possibility of an increase in your weight. A high sugar intake is linked to increased appetite and weight gain.
Conversely, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake. Added sugar in the diet, particularly fructose, increases appetite.
Why Do We Eat Sugar?
Well, simple, it tastes good and it satisfies your cravings. Most of us would rather have sweet foods over bitter ones, wouldn’t we?
Why? Because, in the course of evolution, the human brain learned that sweet things provide a healthy source of rapid energy.
When our ancestors scavenged for berries, sour meant “not yet ripe.” Bitter, on the other hand, often meant “poisonous.”
Sweet not only tasted pleasurable, but it also provided a burst of blood sugar that led our brains to activate the release of dopamine. And this remains true.
Sugar causes your brain to release opioids and dopamine. This is similar to the neurological reward response brought on by addictive drugs. And research actually shows how sugar can be highly addicting.
Breaking It Down: Types of Sugar
For the chemistry buffs, here’s a quick bit of context: Sugars are also known as simple carbohydrates.
They digest quickly, releasing sugars into your bloodstream.
Each Type of Sugar Has Its Own Set of Problems:
1.) Glucose is the most rapidly metabolized by the body and can send your blood sugar levels skyrocketing. It has a glycemic index score of 100 (the highest possible).
2.) Fructose has no impact on insulin production or blood glucose levels. It also has a relatively low glycemic index score.
But it must be metabolized by the liver and is associated with elevated levels of triglycerides, metabolic syndrome, and weight gain.
3.) Sucrose is crystalized white (table) sugar, from the cane sugar plant, and it consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
I know. I know. It is a lot to digest. It is best that you know. After all, no one can decide for you except your own self.
The Pros and Cons of 15 Sugar Substitutes
#1 — High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) comes from corn. You can find it in processed foods, like baked goods, desserts, soda, juices, snacks, and commercial bread.
Despite its name, the most common form consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose — the same as table sugar.
Pros: It’s cheap in the U.S. (thanks to taxpayer subsidies) and sweet.
Cons: Most of the corn used to make HFCS is genetically modified.
HFCS has been linked to numerous health concerns, such as an increased risk for metabolic syndrome, obesity, liver disease, and insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes and cancers. It’s also void of nutrients.
#2 — Brown Rice Syrup
Made by breaking down the starches in brown rice, this sugar substitute is a thick sweetener made of three sugars: maltotriose, maltose, and glucose.
But maltose and maltotriose are just two and three glucose molecules, respectively. They function just like glucose in the body. Processed foods, including toddler snacks and bars, often contain brown rice syrup.
Pros: Brown rice syrup contains glucose, not fructose. The advantage of this is that glucose appears to have a less damaging effect on your liver than fructose.
Cons: Because it’s essentially glucose, rice syrup has a very high glycemic index of 98 — higher than any other type of sugar (table sugar is 60 to 70). Brown rice syrup is also prone to arsenic contamination.
#3 — Agave Nectar
Agave is often touted as a natural, healthy sugar alternative derived from the agave plant. Interestingly, you can make tequila by fermenting the blue agave plant.
Pros: Agave has a very low glycemic index score, meaning it doesn’t spike blood sugar nearly as much as table sugar. Companies often market it as diabetic-friendly.
Cons: Agave has a low GI score because it can contain 90% fructose, which as we’ve discussed, could lead to weight gain and elevated blood triglyceride levels.
It’s 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and contains no nutrients or antioxidants. Although it comes from a plant, the manufacturing process destroys any potential health benefits. It is, essentially, devoid of any beneficial nutrients.
#4 — No-Calorie or Artificial Sweeteners
You’re probably familiar with these sugar substitutes as the pink and blue packets you find on restaurant tables. You’ll also find these in diet or zero-calorie sodas and sugar-free or “light” foods.
These sweeteners are synthetic, and they are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than table sugar.
5 Artificial Sweeteners Approved
The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. Popular brands are Equal, Nutrasweet, Splenda, and Sweet’N Low.
Pros: Because they’re sugar-free, they’re considered suitable for diabetes. And they don’t give you any empty calories because they are essentially calorie-free.
Cons: There is strong evidence that artificial sweeteners may lead to higher risk of cardiovascular disease. In a 2014 study conducted by the University of Iowa, researchers tracked 60,000 women over 10 years.
They found that women who drank two or more diet drinks per day had a 30% higher risk of a cardiovascular disease event. They were also 50% more likely to die from the disease.
Diet Sodas = Weight Gain
And, as counterintuitive as it may seem, studies tell us that people who drink diet sodas are actually more likely to gain weight.
In one study, participants who started out at a normal weight and drank 21 diet sodas per week were twice as likely to be overweight years later as their non-diet-soda-drinking peers.
Some researchers believe this is because the no-calorie sweeteners in diet sodas trick the brain into expecting a “sugar hit.”
When the sugar doesn’t come, the brain is stimulated to crave food, thus contributing to overeating and weight gain.
The “Less Worse” Sugar Substitutes#5 – Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is white sugar with some molasses remaining in it or added back after processing.
(Sugar has had all of its molasses removed through the refining process.) Yep, it’s that simple! And the difference between light and dark brown sugar?
The amount of molasses in them. Molasses is also what makes brown sugar soft and moist. Turbinado sugar and evaporated cane juice are essentially less processed versions of brown sugar.
Pros: Because of the molasses, brown sugar offers more nutrients than white, like small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Cons: The nutrients brown sugar contains aren’t enough to write home about.
One ounce contains 0.2 mg of iron, whereas the RDA of iron for the average person is at least 8 mg per day. And it has almost all the negatives associated with white sugar.
#6 — Barley Malt
Barley malt is an unrefined sweetener that’s made from sprouted barley.
It contains 65% maltose (essentially a form of glucose), 30% complex carbohydrates, and 3% protein.
Pros: Barley malt isn’t as sweet as many other sweeteners. Because it has some complex carbohydrates and a bit of protein, it is milder in its impact.
Cons: Since it’s high in maltose, barley malt can contribute to rapid blood sugar spikes. Also, barley contains gluten.
This makes barley malt inappropriate for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
#7 — Maple Syrup
Best known as a pancake topper, maple syrup is a thick, dark sweetener made by boiling down maple tree sap.
I’m talking about pure maple syrup, not corn syrup imitations, like Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima.
Pros: Maple syrup contains over 20 antioxidants and some good nutrients, including zinc, manganese, calcium, and potassium.
A handful of studies have suggested potential breast and colon cancer-fighting properties in maple syrup polyphenols.
Maple syrup also has a slightly lower GI score than sugar. Maple trees can produce sap for over 100 years if tended to well, making them pretty sustainable.
Cons: Maple syrup is still high in sugar, made up of ⅔ sucrose, and supplying 50 grams of sugar in just ¼ cup.
#8 — Coconut Sugar
Not surprisingly, coconut sugar comes from the coconut palm tree.
Also known as palm sugar, it looks similar to brown sugar, though it feels a little bit drier and has smaller granules.
Pros: Coconut sugar contains a fiber called inulin, which may help stabilize blood sugar.
Palm trees don’t need to be cut down to produce this sugar, and they can produce sap for 20 years without using a lot of natural resources.
Cons: Coconut sugar still contains a lot of sugar. Its profile consists of around 70- 80% sucrose.
#9 — Honey
Honey is a fascinating substance, made by hard-working honeybees. The bees make honey from the nectar they get as they fly from flower to flower.
Food companies use honey to sweeten and flavor many packaged foods. And it’s also popular for home use in things like tea or baking.
Pros: Honey contains flavonoid antioxidants. It also offers vitamin C, B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals.
Some people believe locally sourced raw honey can alleviate certain allergy symptoms, though the research is mixed. Honey also has antimicrobial properties.
High Sugar Content
Cons: Honey is still high in sugar content. And its antioxidant and nutritional values depend on the type of flowers the bees used as their nectar source.
There are also debated ethical concerns around eating honey, especially when it comes from industrialized bee farms.
For instance, concerns around what farmers feed them, the treatment of the Queen, and the role of these farms in colony collapse disorder.
Children under one year old should not eat honey due to its potential for harboring bacteria that cause botulism.
Finding purely organic, mass-produced honey is near impossible. But many small-scale local beekeepers contribute to pollination and a healthier ecosystem.
The Better Sugar Substitutes
#10 — Stevia
Every time my girlfriend and I went out to eat at a restaurant she made sure she had packets of Stevia in her bag.
She did this just in case the restaurant we were going to eat at could not provide her with any. At least she made sure she had some. She would not take any sugar substitute other than Stevia.
Well, for me that’s what she liked. I don’t use any of those sugar substitutes nor any form of sugar at all. Like I said all the time, “I am already sweet as sugar.”
Stevia comes from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana bush, native to South America. It contains no calories and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia looks like a white powder or is available in drops. Some sports drink and soda companies add it to their products.
Pros: Stevia is 100% natural and may have disease-preventing potential. A 2017 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that it could prevent metabolic syndrome and related conditions. It may also help lower high blood pressure.
Benefits of Stevia
Cons: Stevia can possibly lower blood pressure too much. It may interact with certain medications. There is also ongoing research around naturally occurring compounds in stevia and whether they can potentially cause cancers and genetic mutations.
Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you resources, like this. In order to do this, please note that whenever you click the links in my posts and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission.
#11 — Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are reduced-calorie sweeteners. Despite the name, they don’t contain alcohol. Two of these are erythritol and xylitol.
Erythritol occurs naturally in many fruits. It’s found in mushrooms and foods derived from fermentation as well. And it can be man-made.
Pros: It has no calories and doesn’t seem to cause the same digestive problems as other sugar alcohols. It also doesn’t lead to tooth decay, might be a preferred substitute for people with diabetes, and has been found to act as a strong antioxidant.
Cons: It’s not as sweet as sugar on its own, so it’s sometimes combined with artificial sugars. Consuming it may lead to acid reflux and promote dehydration and a loss of electrolytes.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is sometimes made from GMO cornstarch, so look for organic varieties if you want to avoid genetically engineered ingredients. Xylitol is often used as a no-calorie sweetener for gums, mints, candy, and even some toothpaste.
Pros: Xylitol has a very low GI (around 7 compared to 60 to 70 of table sugar). It can prevent tooth decay, reduce infections, and benefit gut health. Rat studies show the potential for xylitol to prevent osteoporosis and support healthy skin aging.
Cons: Sugar alcohols pull water into your intestine and, when consumed in excess, can cause diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Also, some xylitol comes from corn, which could be genetically modified.
To be safe, look for a non-GMO claim or xylitol made from birch.
Cause of Xylitol to Dogs
Important: Xylitol is toxic to dogs, with potentially serious, even life-threatening, results. Dogs that ingest even small amounts of xylitol (often from gum, candy, and toothpaste) are at risk of developing hypoglycemia and acute liver failure.
If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, take him to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately. Read this article from PetMD.com for more info. (The toxicity of xylitol for cats has not been documented.)
#12 — Monk Fruit
Monk fruit is one of the more natural sweeteners. It’s a fruit-derived sweetener that’s been used for hundreds of years. Monk fruit is around 150 to 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Pros: Monk fruit extract is a zero-calorie sweetener. And it doesn’t affect blood sugars.
Monk fruit sweeteners come in various forms, such as granules, liquid, and powder, making them a versatile option. Monk fruit sweeteners taste just like all the other sweeteners.
Monk fruit sweeteners are generally recognized as safe, including for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children.
What is Mogrosides?
Additionally, mogrosides in monk fruit have antioxidant effects, helping to prevent oxidative stress in your body. And one study suggests that the sweetener might have anti-inflammatory properties.
Cons: Though monk fruit won’t affect blood sugars on its own, consuming empty calories could lead to overeating later. This may lead to spikes in blood sugar and insulin.
Monk fruit isn’t grown in many places, meaning it has to be transported and has high import and export costs. This can also make it expensive to buy.
#13 — Molasses
Ever tried to pour molasses out of its bottle? Dark, thick, and slow-moving, molasses is made by boiling down sugar cane.
Food companies sometimes use it to flavor commercial bread, gingerbread cookies, and marinades.
Pros: Molasses, particularly blackstrap, contains antioxidants and several nutrients, including iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Cons: Molasses is still high in sugar. It also has fewer consumer uses as a sweetener due to its distinct, sweet, dark taste.
While this is perfect for gingerbread cookies, it’s not for a wide range of treats.
#14 — Yacon Syrup
Yacon syrup comes from the yacon plant, native to the Andes. It resembles the sweet potato in its whole form.
The manufacturing process is similar to that of maple syrup. It’s extracted from the plant’s leaves, filtered, and evaporated into a sweet syrup.
Pros: Yacon syrup may be beneficial for lowering blood sugar and has a potential application as a laxative.
Cons: Regular use may change your bowel habits, which may or may not be something you want.
Yacon syrup is also a less common sweetener with fewer tried and true applications at home.
#15 — Date Sugar
How do you make date sugar? By simply grinding whole dates into a powder.Pros: Date sugar is a whole-food sweetener, made from dates themselves.
And dates are naturally highly nutritious — rich in fiber, protein, B vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, manganese, and copper.
Date trees are pretty eco-friendly, living up to 150 years when nurtured appropriately.
Cons: Dates have a high GI. Date sugar doesn’t melt well, so it does have some limitations in terms of where you can use it. It also tends to be a more expensive option among sweeteners.
Date paste is far less processed than date sugar, easy to make at home, and can be used in recipes where date sugar doesn’t work.
You can also buy whole pitted dates and blend them into the wet ingredients for baking and other applications.
What sugar substitutes/artificial sweeteners are approved by the FDA?
- Acesulfame K (brand names: Sunett and Sweet One)
- Aspartame (two brand names: Equal and Nutrasweet)
- Neotame (brand name: Newtame)
- Saccharin (two brand names: Sweet ‘N Low and Sweet Twin)
- Sucralose (brand name: Splenda)
And the Best Sweetener of All Is… Fresh Fruit!
Whole fruits, mashed or pureed, are another natural sweetener option.
And they have the distinct advantage of actually being good for you.
Many people find that they can satisfy a sweet craving with frozen grapes or berries, a mandarin, a mango, or a banana or fresh fruit drinks or fresh fruit smoothies.
Natural sugars in fruits can calm a sweet tooth. And they come with fiber and many other beneficial nutrients.
Mashed bananas or applesauce can also add sweetness to baked goods.
A Spoonful of Sugar
In a society that’s made added sugars a primary source of calories, we can see how sugar is harming the health of billions.
And for some people, especially those who are more susceptible to addictive foods and are high on what neuroscientist, Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. calls it the “susceptibility scale,”
It is the taste of sweet foods other than whole fruits — even stevia and dried fruits — can trigger addictive tendencies.
But for many of us, a modest amount of the right kind of sweeteners can add a dash of delight to our culinary lives.
And sometimes, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.
6 Sweet Sugar Substitutes for Baking
Here is a bonus for you if you were a baker and wanting to change the use of the old sugar and use the healthier substitutes for it.
- Agave Nectar or Agave Syrup. For every cup of sugar your recipe calls for, try 2/3 cup of agave. …
- Coconut sugar. This is an easy 1-for-1 substitution and is a flavorful substitution for recipes calling for both white and brown sugar.
- Honey. …
- Fruit Concentrates. …
- Maple Syrup. …
What is your experience with all these sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives or plain old sugar?
Please do leave us your comments, input, opinion, recommendations, suggestions, or any advice about sugar.