Five Sugar Alternatives that are Basically Sugar
We all deserve sweetness in our lives, but where do you find that while avoiding sugar? Corn syrup, coconut sugar, maple syrup, agave, and honey may seem like good alternatives, but have many of the same negative side effects as sugar.
Don't be fooled by Sugar posers.
Why avoid sugar?
First of all, why isn't sugar a healthy option? Cane sugar, or white sugar, is full of empty calories. Sugar provides calories and energy with no nutritional value.
Sugar is 100% carbohydrates. Sugar consists of 50% fructose and 50% glucose (two elements or molecules of sugar) and has a glycemic index (GI) of 60. Sugar is known to cause tooth decay, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, among many other diseases and side effects.
Corn Syrup is worse than sugar.
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.
Coconut Sugar isn't a healthy alternative.
Coconut sugar is aptly named because it's just another sugar. 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.
Maple Syrup has high fructose levels.
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 can lead to health problems.
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 is basically sugar.
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.
Final thoughts on sugar alternatives.
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 monk fruit. It has a 0 GI and does not contain fructose. You can have sweetness in your life without any spike in your blood sugar.