Practical Sugar Tips
For the average busy professional woman, the idea of a No-Sugar Diet is just not realistic. For starters, what does ‘sugar’ actually mean: just the white refined stuff, or any sweetener that has calories?? I am not suggesting you eliminate sugar completely from your diet, but I want to give you simple useful information on the types of sugar that you commonly come across that is used to sweeten most foods and the stuff to avoid
Types of Sugar
‘Sugar’ is a general word for the stuff that tastes sweet, comes from some source in nature, and has lots of calories. There are many types of sugar in nature, and the chemical make-up of each is a bit different. I.e. fruits have sugar made of fructose, honey is made from 2 molecules: one fructose plus one glucose. Cane sugar (made from sugar cane) is made of sucrose, and is probably the most common of the types of sugar sold in stores to sweeten foods and drinks.
Some types of sugar are actually refined versions of the top three, for example molasses is made from sugar cane.
Is ‘Raw’ Healthier?
Terms such as ‘raw’ or ‘brown’ do not mean much. The sugar is still the same, ie. sucrose in the case of ‘raw cane sugar.’ The only difference between white and brown sugar is that brown sugar hasn’t usually been refined as much (so technically brown sugar is a bit healthier but the difference is so small it doesn’t matter–they both still have the same calories and are the highest food on the glycemic index (see my article on the glycemic index for details on this!). Cane sugar in any form, brown or white, is pro-imflammatory and lowers your body’s natural immune system if used excessively (see my article on Anti-Inflammatory Diet for details!).
Sugar made from corn, called corn syrup and it’s evil cousin, High Fructose Corn Syrup are refined versions of sugar from corn plants and should be avoided always!! In modern packaged food, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are sneakily put into food and drinks to make them taste better, but these forms of sugar are highly ADDICTIVE. High fructose corn syrup messes with our body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and causes cravings for more high fructose corn syrup and leads to overeating. Ice cream is a common food that has high fructose corn syrup used as the sweetener–read the label before you buy!
Better Alternatives to Cane Sugar
Other natural types of sugar that can be used in moderation in place of cane sugar are raw/unpasterized honey (not for infants!), real maple syrup and blackstrap molasses. Keep in mind though that these still have lots of calories!
Stevia is a No Calorie Natural Sweetener that is a great option too–read more about it under the Nutrition Section
In baking, using other things to sweeten your recipes like ground up dates, banana, and applesauce will cut calories and make your goodies healthier choices!