We Don't Need Fancy Sugar

If you've been following my study of the sugar tree, thank you for joining me on what has been a flabbergastingly frustrating journey through the maze of fact, fiction and the downright ridiculous.

Everyday, I come across people attempting to convince themselves and others that their choice of sugar is justified by some kind of health benefit or unique quality that makes it healthy.*scoff* 

Type of Sugar%Refinement GI
Table sugar 50% glucose 50% fructose High Moderate
Raw sugar 49.5% glucose 49.5% fructose Medium Moderate
Brown sugar 47.5% glucose 47.5% fructose High Moderate
Caster sugar 50% glucose 50% fructoseHigh Moderate
Glucose/dextrose 100% glucose High High
Fructose 100% fructose High Low
Date palm sugar/Jaggery 48% glucose 48% fructose Low Moderate
Coconut palm sugar 48% glucose 47% fructose Low Moderate
Date sugar 30% glucose 30% fructose Low Moderate
Maple syrup 33.5% glucose 33.5% fructose Low Moderate
Corn syrup 100% glucose Mid-high High
High fructose corn syrup 50% glucose 50% fructose High Moderate
Golden syrup 37% glucose 37% fructose Medium Moderate
Rice malt syrup 98% glucose Low High
Barley malt syrup 96% glucose 4% fructose Low High

Time to face facts (as opposed to believing the all the marketing fiction). There is no such thing as a healthy option when it comes to added sugar (and products that are sugar but are not called sugar) but that's not to say that different kinds of sugars don't have their benefits.

The Value of Diversity
Sugars and syrups such as muscovado, jaggery, coconut, rice malt, barley malt and maple, to name a few, are richer in flavour than ordinary table sugar and are far less refined.
Allow me to be pedantic and point out that they are still refined in the true definition of the word but for labeling purposes the word unrefined is used as a much more appealing option.
As far as health benefits go, they do not contain enough nutrients to truly set them apart from table sugar but I find quite often that the increased richness in flavour negates the need for too much sweetening, so I use less sugar, which is always a bonus right?

The Secret Sugar
Maltotriose and other maltodextrins were an interesting find. These are multi molecular sugar compounds that are not required to be included as sugar on food labels. Although considered a complex carbohydrates, these these are sugar chains and are as readily absorbed as glucose. This means that when reading label like this one for rice malt syrup:

you are seeing 80g of total carbohydrates and only 55g of sugar per 100g. The problem with this (particularly if you are a diabetic watching your intake) is that the remaining carbohydrate, in this case, is maltotriose, a substance that is made up entirely of multiple sugar molecules, is sweet like sugar (sweeter in fact), is metabolised like sugar, has a higher GI than sugar but is not required to be declared as a sugar for labeling purposes??! It's the saviour of the sugar free world!
Interestingly, some companies choose to include it as a sugar on their nutritional info and others won't but this just adds confusion, particularly since "naturally occurring" maltodextrins won't be listed in the ingredients.
Technically they are not natural at all as these bonds are formed as a result of the evaporation process of certain syrups.

This might be old news for some but for me, this was further confirmation that there are companies who will exploit every loophole, even if it could be detrimental to our health, just to make a buck.  

Everything in Excess
The down side to a balanced diet is that everything must be in moderation, not something our excessive and wasteful society is particularly familiar with. We build bigger houses because we want more space. We drive bigger cars so we can fit more in them. We get big TV's because we're going blind? I'm not sure what the appeal is there but we want it, we get it. 
So when we want more cake what do we do? We fool ourselves into believing the sugar we use is good for us and we pay the excess for it (in more ways than one).

Sugar Is Not Toxic
The word Toxic means, in short, poison.
When consumed in accordance with your dietary needs, sugar poses no threat to your health. It is not a poison. Even if you sat and ate a cup of sugar (If you would even consider this, I think you need help), assuming you have no underlying health problems, it won't kill you. Sugar does however have a negative effect on the body if consumed in excess regularly.

Work For It
The more active you are, the more glucose your body will use (your body doesn't care where that glucose comes from, it will use it all the same). If you are leading a sedentary lifestyle, you would be best to skip the chocolate cake, soft drinks, high carb and calorie diet because your body can't use it, excess will be stored as fat, which can cause any number of health problems.
We should remember that it is not just sugar that contributes to blood glucose. Our bodies will convert all the carbohydrates it can into glucose.
Those with a very active lifestyle, like athletes, are able to metabolise more sugar safely as they are utilising the glucose in their blood, however, they too need a lower sugar intake during less active periods.

The Myths are Plentiful, Stick With the Facts
No matter what new arguments may arise regarding added sugars, limited consumption will always be the best choice.
The best source of sugar is found in whole foods and these often make great sweeteners on their own. 
Regardless of which added sweeteners you choose to use, you need to keep in mind that they should all be consumed sparingly.

Try cutting back a little each day. 
If you have sugar in your tea or coffee, try halving the amount. 
Replace one can of soft drink with a glass of water.
If a recipe asks for 1 cup of sugar, try 3/4 of a cup.
We don't need fancy sugar, we don't need to cut out sugar completely, we just need less!

If you missed any of the posts and want to know more, you can find them below or leave your question in the comments.  Thanks for reading xx
Rice Malt Syrup (The truth) 
When is Sugar Not Sugar?
Why you should use coconut sugar and why you shouldn't. 
Sugar, Friend or Foe?

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