Know Your Sugars: Some are a lot better than others

Sugar comes in different forms. Refined sugars have no nutritional value while other types of sugar have some nutritional content.

To be healthy, we need to consume foods high in nutritional value and low in calories. Unfortunately, many of us consume the opposite, including an overabundance of refined grains and sugars.

A report by the USDA reveals that 65 percent of food consumption in the United States is from refined white flour and refined sugar products. USDA statistics (2000) indicate that each year an average adult eats 100 pounds of refined sugar, 300 cans of soda pop, 20 gallons of ice cream and 50 pounds of cakes and cookies. Yikes!

Overconsumption of refined sugars contributes not only to diseases such as diabetes, but it can aggravate cancers, cause tooth decay, contribute to allergies, yeast infections, atherosclerosis, joint problems, skin disorders and the list goes on.

Least Healthy: The Refined Sugars

Whenever possible, we need to minimize our intake of refined sugars, or better yet avoid them. They are devoid of nutrients and absorbed very quickly into our blood stream, which spikes glucose levels.

  • ~ Sucrose, or white, refined table sugar
  • ~ Confectioner’s sugar, or powdered sugar
  • ~ Brown sugar, which is sucrose crystals from molasses
  • ~ High fructose corn syrup, a very refined sweetener
  • ~ Dextrose, made from cornstarch
  • ~ Invert sugar, or glucose plus fructose

Better, Healthier Sugars

Other sugars, many of which have a moderate to fairly high glycemic index, at least contribute some nutrients to our diet. They are a wiser choice, but we still need limit consumption.

  • ~ Agave nectar, juice from a desert plant
  • ~ Fructose (not refined), found in many foods
  • ~ Sugar alcohols: sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol
  • ~ Rice syrup such as maltose
  • ~ Turbinado, or dehydrated and crystalized raw sugar cane juice
  • ~ Fruit juice concentrate
  • ~ Date or kiwi sugar
  • ~ Grade B maple syrup (unrefined)
  • ~ Unsulphured molasses
  • ~ Sucanat, from non-refined cane sugar containing molasses
  • ~ Rapadura, pure dried sugarcane juice
  • ~ Raw honey
  • ~ Stevia, a sweet herb powder, has no calories

The Best Sugars

The healthiest sugars are those found in whole fruits and vegetables and to a lesser degree in dried fruits such as raisins and dates. These sugars come with the added benefits of micronutrients such as enzymes, fiber, complete vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie (no sugars added)

  • ~ 1 or 2 bananas
  • ~ 1 apple, pear, or kiwi
  • ~ 1/2 cup milk (preferably soy, rice, or almond milk)
  • ~ 1 cup crushed ice
  • ~ 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • ~ 1 handful almonds (optional)
  • ~ 1 heaping Tbsp cocoa
  • ~ water to balance thickness, as desired

To Prepare: Blend ingredients in a power blender and serve

Source: Forbidden Secrets from Nature’s Pharmacy, Michael Cutler, M.D.

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