Many of us have a hard time resisting sugary sweets when they are right in front of us. (Maybe it’s because they’re addicting…) The struggle is real! We all know sugar does nothing but harm us. To avoid giving up sweets entirely, many search for health sugar alternatives and find five recommended sugar alternatives: corn syrup, coconut sugar, maple syrup, agave, and honey. Unfortunately, in recent years, these sugars have been found to nothing more than sugar- with all the same negative side effects.
Let’s explore why sugar is not healthy, so we can better understand why these recommended sugar alternatives are not any better than sugar. Cane sugar or table sugar provide what is known as empty calories. Empty calories refers to the fact that sugar provides calories and energy with no nutritional value. Sugar is 100% carbohydrates; it has no protein or fat. Basically, sugar fills you up but gives no nutrients. It consists of 50% fructose and 50% glucose (two elements or molecules of sugar) and has a glycemic index (GI) of 60. Not only are the empty calories, but they are harmful calories. Sugar is known to cause tooth decay, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, among many other diseases and side effects.
1. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is worse than sugar. It has a GI of 73 and consists of 55% fructose and 45% glucose. The increase of fructose is not good. Fructose is suspected to be the worse kind of sugar element. Corn syrup is found in cereals, baked goods, ultra-processed foods, and juices and sodas. This sweetener has been linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, increase cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
2. Coconut Sugar
This coconut sugar reminds you of tropical smoothies and breezy beach days, but unfortunately it’s just another “sugar”. Coconut sugar is another sugar alternative. Coconut syrup is high in calories and in the GI which is 54. This sweetener was thought to be healthy because it does have some nutrients in it. However, the amount of nutrients in each use of coconut sugar is miniscule. Coconut sugar has nearly the same about of fructose as sugar as has the same negatives side effects.
3. Maple Syrup
Like coconut sugar, maple syrup has some nutrients. But, again, the amount of nutrients is not going to do much for your body. Maple syrup also has a GI of 54. Maple Syrup consists of 66% sucrose. Half of sucrose is fructose. Maple syrup is very similar to sugar and coconut sugar in fructose levels. Maple syrup also has the same dangers as sugar.
Agave syrup or nectar is derived most commonly from the Blue Agave plant in southern Mexico. The plant has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; however, none of those properties are present in agave syrup. Agave syrup ranks as a 30 on the GI. Yet, the reason this is so low is because agave is primarily made up of fructose. Fructose does not spike blood sugar as much as glucose. Although blood sugar is not spiked, the fructose in agave can still lead to health problems such as increased cholesterol, increased chance of blood clots, and weight gain.
Honey, like coconut sugar and maple syrup, has nutrients and antioxidants. The amount of nutrients accounts for about 2% of the composition of honey. Honey primarily consists of fructose and glucose. The amount of both sugars varies between type of honey. This variance causes the GI of honey to fall somewhere between 45 and 64 depending on the honey type. Honey is still primarily sugar.
These five sugar alternatives are basically sugar. Some have nutritional value, but there is not enough nutrients in every serving to outweigh the amount of sugar in the same serving. Also, all these sweeteners have moderate to high glycemic levels. All these alternatives raise blood sugar levels.
So, the search is still on for a healthy alternative for sugar. One sweetener that is worth looking into is Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener. It has a 0 GI and does not contain fructose! Lakanto’s sweetener is NOT sugar, doesn’t have the same negative side effects, and sweetens with antioxidants! It’s the perfectly sweet sugar-replacement!.
7 Basic Honey Nutrition Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-nutrition.html
Babcock, J. (2017, October 06). Maple Syrup Extract Causes Mega Boost to Our Most Important Antibiotics, Scientists Discover. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://draxe.com/maple-syrup-nutrition
Boldt, E. (2017, November 04). Is Agave Nectar Good for You? Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://draxe.com/agave-nectar/
Christensen, M. (2017, October 03). Nutritional Facts on Cane Sugar. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/346356-nutritional-facts-on-cane-sugar/
GloryBee. (n.d.). GloryBee | Honey Nutrition - Facts About Honey. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://glorybee.com/content/honey-facts-nutrition
Gunnars, K. (2017, June 4). Maple Syrup: Healthy or Unhealthy? Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/maple-syrup#section5
Gunnars, K. (2017, June 15). 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Honey. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-honey#section10
Gunnars, K. (2018, May 25). Coconut Sugar - A Healthy Sugar Alternative or a Big, Fat Lie? Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-sugar#section4
Leech, J. (2017, June 9). Agave Nectar: A Sweetener That is Even Worse Than Sugar. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/agave-nectar-is-even-worse-than-sugar
Price, A. (2017, November 13). How High Fructose Corn Syrup Destroys Your Body (It's NOT a Pretty Picture). Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://draxe.com/high-fructose-corn-syrup-dangers/
Scholz, H. (2016, June 06). Agave Side Effects. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.sideeffects.com/agave.htmlZerbe, L. (2018, May 11). How Sugar Destroys Your Body. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://draxe.com/is-sugar-bad-for-you/