Will the REAL FOOD Sugar Please Stand Up?
I love sweet things. As a child I was addicted to white sugar and this caused many health problems. This is one reason that at Real Food for Life I am always talking about real foods: foods that are whole, live and are balancing to the body. I try to find sugars in this category.
Not all sugars are equal. Some are very good for you in small quantities. Many are less healthy. Which ones on the following list would you consider real foods? Which do you use and why?
Common Sugars and Sweeteners
1. White sugar (aka sucrose)
White sugar is a pure chemical extract of sugar cane or sugar beet with no vitamins or minerals; these are stripped during the extraction process. Refined white sugar is a simple carbohydrate with lots of calories, no dietary fiber and is an isolate. Isolates never occur in whole foods. Vegetarians may note that it may be processed with bone char. Causes a “sugar high.”
2. Brown sugar
Brown sugar is white sugar coated in molasses which will add a few trace minerals but no healthier than white sugar and creates the same “sugar high.”
Fructose is not from fruit; it is a commercial, refined sugar and it is no more nutritious than sucrose. It raises cholesterol, makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process.
4. Sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols (Erythritol, Isomalt, Lactitol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates) are neither sugars nor alcohols. They do have calories; Xylitol has more then half the calories of white sugar. The only problems I could find with them are that when they are eaten in excessive amounts they can cause gastrointestinal side effects (bloating and diarrhea), weight gain and increased blood sugars. Still they are not whole foods so caution must be used; the recommendation is to not use them on a regular basis.
5. Fruit juice concentrate
This is refined and has been stripped of flavor and nutritional value. It is rapidly assimilated in the bloodstream so not highly recommended.
6. Demerara sugar (natural brown sugar)
Also known as turbinado sugar, demerara sugar is made by extracting the juice from sugar cane and then heating it until it is turned into crystals. It does not preserve much of its original molasses content but does have lots of potassium and some minerals and vitamins.