Natural vs. Unnatural sugar. That’s the big debate now.
For some time we felt relatively safe scooping big mounds of that white crystalline stuff into our kids’ summer drinks and holiday cookies. Now, we look at it with undisguised fear and repugnance.
Sure, we’re told that a sugar-free diet is a good thing. But then we’re faced with the consumption of still more chemicals that taste sweet, but aren’t food of any kind.
What are we to do?
Most registered dieticians recommend that if you stick to the more natural sweeteners, you’ll be doing better. The idea is to not necessarily sweeten our food, but consume fresh fruits and milks that already have natural sugars in them. The idea is to avoid adding any extra sugar to your diet.
Here are a couple of alternatives to sugar that a number of people use.
1. Agave syrup. Agave may have gotten a lot of hype since it was first introduced to the American public, that it’s glycemic index was much lower than that of sugar. The fact is that while agave nectar sounds more natural than sugar, it is highly processed and contains nearly 90% fructose. Glucose is a sugar that the body can use. Fructose can’t be used as readily, causes inflammation and increases the load on the pancreas. Just because it’s often found in health food stores doesn’t mean it is a good choice.
2. Honey. Again, another “natural” choice, and it does have some vitamin B6 in it, but to get enough to make any kind of nutritional difference you will have to eat a lot of it. Basically, honey is just a sweetener and at over 60 calories a tablespoon it is more costly to burn off than regular sugar.
3. Coconut palm sugar. This is another bit of hype. As with honey, it has some nutritional value, but don’t mix the benefits of this sugar up with the benefits of coconut oil. This, too, is a sweetener and needs to be used as such.
4. Maple syrup. One more healthy-sounding sweetener because it comes from a tree, but again it is another source of sugar. Again, it has some nutritional value in it, but anything with the name syrup or nectar in it is going to be adding extra sugar to your diet.
In the long run, using any one of these natural sweeteners is going to add calories to your diet. If you enjoy the taste of them and use them judiciously, they’re probably fine. But in order to reduce overall inflammation in the body, it’s better to avoid as much sugar as possible.