By Lauren Denos: 6/22/2015 (Nutrition)

Refined beet sugar and White table sugar is so processed that there is no more nutrition in it worth consuming. In fact, when they process sugar, they strip out all the vitamins and minerals, this is where the byproduct Molasses comes from. Molasses is where all the nutrients from sugar end up. The big problem with the striping of these nutrients is the sugar then leaches nutrients from your body to help it digest in the system. So really this type of sugar is a negative nutrient for your body.

Date sugar is actually made from grinding dried dates really fine. So it is less processed than some other sweeteners and considered to have more nutritional value. It can have issues in liquids and baking since it does not dissolve like other sweeteners. It will still spike your blood sugar like regular sugar will.

Luo Han Guo, also known as Monk Fruit, is about 150-300 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used in Chinese medicine for some time for various issues. There is some information out that says Monk Fruit may actually help with decreasing blood sugar, even though there aren’t a lot of studies on this sweetener yet. For the time being, it is considered safe and low glycemic. When buying this, get a pure version. Many sweeteners derived from this fruit have added ingredients.

Malt barley syrup/sweetener is made from barley malt. It is most commonly used for brewing alcohol and baking bread. It has started to be used by some for an all-around sweetener, but there is not much information on the effects it has. It is said to be more complex than sugar, and therefore may not spike blood sugar as much. Because this sweetener is made from barley, so it may not be a good choice for someone with gluten sensitivities.

Brown rice syrup is only slightly below sugar on the glycemic index so if you have blood sugar issues you may want to steer clear of this one. Also, if you choose to use this sweetener, be aware that it can be treated with other substances like barley. So check your ingredients. The good thing with brown rice syrup is that it is more of a complex carb than regular sugar, so it digests slower in the body. Dartmouth has done some studies finding high levels of arsenic in this processed sweetener. Personally, I would still stick with the honey and coconut sugar instead of brown rice syrup for people with no blood sugar issues.

Black strap molasses contains more nutrients than most sweeteners. Manganese, copper, iron and calcium are all in black strap molasses. Molasses also has a really awesome flavor which makes it great to add to certain recipes. Although it has some good health benefits, it is still a sweetener that can spike your blood sugar levels. So for those with blood sugar issues should not make this their sweetener of choice. If you do not have blood sugar issues then this is a great choice.

Sorghum Syrup originates in the south so if you live on the coast chances are you have not heard about this sweetener. Many people use it in place of maple syrup on pancakes and in baked goods. It has a variety of vitamins and minerals in it.. As with any sweetener make sure you get it in its most natural state. The more refined, the less health value it has. This sweetener can still spike the blood sugar and should not be used by people with blood sugar problems.

High Fructose corn syrup (aka. corn sugar or HFCS) has been linked to many health issues. Princeton University did a study that found high fructose corn syrup causes weight gain, especially in the abdominal area despite eating the same amount of calories as another group. HFCS contains an unbalanced ratio of fructose to glucose, the fructose molecules are also unbound to the glucose (they would be bound in other sugars). This means they are processed differently. A normal sugar would be stored as a carbohydrate and used as energy, whereas the excess fructose in HFCS is being metabolized to produce fat. There is much more that can be said about this sweetener, but that would take up a lot more space and I think most people have a general idea that this is not good for us. Stay away from this sweetener!

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that many of us have heard horrible things about. I assumed that finding links to the dangers of aspartame would be a slam dunk, but it has been just the opposite. I have had a hard time finding any credible resources or studies that prove aspartame is a danger or that causes health problems. There are many articles talking about the risks associated with this artificial sweetener, but there are no good resources sited in these article. I would personally still avoid this substance. I will not say it is perfectly safe, but I will say there is no concrete evidence to the contrary. You can find it in many brand name sweeteners some of them are NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, or Equal-Measure.

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that has been shown to raise blood sugar by 20%. This is a big deal considering that this substance was initially considered inert (not to have an effect on the body). There is much more testing to be done on this substance to know the long term effects on health, but you are better off going with a natural sweetener. Suclarose can be found in Splenda.

Acesulfame K (Acesulfame Potassium) is a chemical artificial sweetener. The studies I have seen say that Acesulfame K by itself it is safe for consumption. Although, it tends to be mixed with other not so great sweeteners. Other sources claim that this chemical sweetener can be linked to blood sugar issues, liver and kidney problems, cancer. This is due to the ingredient methylene chloride. There are opinions on both side of the fence with this one. Acesulfame K is in Sunett, Sunette and Sweet One.

Dextrose (aka. glucose) is found in honey naturally, but there are dextrose supplements on the market now and they are often derived from corn or other grains. When you buy a pure form of the supplement it can be all glucose, but again make sure what is in the product since additives can be in many things. Some athletes use this supplement as a fast acting carbohydrate to help them with recovery especially during endurance races. Since this is a fast absorbing carbohydrate, people with blood sugar problems would be better off not eating it.

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