Let’s Compare Sweeteners
Not all sweeteners are created equal, that’s for sure! We did a little side by side comparison of some of the most popular sweeteners on the market today. Some might even surprise you. Sweeteners have varying Glycemic Index (GI) levels. The glycemic index is a measurement that indicates a sweetener’s effect on your blood glucose (blood sugar) level – 100 being the standard which is equal to pure glucose.
It would make sense to assume sweeteners with a lower glycemic index are the best choice. While that is generally true, some sweeteners have a low GI but convert differently into fructose which ultimately turns into fat.
This week we’ve put together a list of popular sweeteners and how they rank against each other.
As a side note, there are many other sweeteners such as black strap molasses, date sugar, brown rice syrup, etc but we simply couldn’t touch on them all. Okay, let’s take a closer look.
|Refined White Sugar||68|
|Turbinado (raw) Sugar||65|
|Coconut Palm Sugar or Nectar||35|
Refined White Sugar
GI – 68
Refined white sugar (sucrose) is a combination of glucose and fructose. Fructose can only be broken down in the liver. From there it is transformed into fat which is sent to be stored in our fat cells. It has no nutritional value and is toxic to our body. Click here to read more about toxic foods.
Turbinado (raw) Sugar
GI – 65
Turbinado sugar (also called raw sugar) claims to be better for you than refined white sugar because it contains trace amounts of nutrients including calcium, potassium and iron. However, to see any benefits from these nutrients you would have to consume 13 cups of raw sugar to get the amount of calcium in 1 cup of cow’s milk, 7 cups of raw sugar to get the same amount of potassium in 1 banana and 8.5 cups of raw sugar to get the same amount of iron in 1 cup of spinach. Raw sugar is virtually no different that refined white sugar. When these sugars are made, refined white sugar is boiled many times to remove the molasses. Raw sugar is only boiled once which gives it the brown color.
GI – 65
Sucanat (an abbreviation for sugar cane natural) is dehydrated sugar cane juice that is often marketed as less refined and more nutritious than table sugar, or sucrose. Although it is minimally processed, Sucanat isn’t any healthier than other types of sugar. It is still made up of about 88% surcrose (turbinado sugar 99% sucrose and refined white sugar 99.9% sucrose.) Our advice is to treat it like refined white sugar. It is similar to turbinado sugar that it contains trace amounts of nutrients, but not enough to make it a healthy choice.
GI – 60
Raw honey, like coconut palm nectar, is a natural sugar. Also like coconut palm nectar, it is still a sugar and should be used in moderation. However, raw honey does have a few great benefits that coconut nectar does not – it is a natural source of energy, antioxidants and pollen (which can counter pollen allergies.) It also reacts to our body fluid creating hydrogen peroxide which gives it antibacterial properties. Just remember the key is moderation since it still has a high glycemic index.
Coconut Palm Sugar
GI – 35
Coconut palm sugar and coconut nectar are virtually the same. They are both natural sugars. Coconut nectar is harvested directly from the flower of a coconut palm tree, not the coconut. The nectar is minimally processes by heating it for a short amount of time to remove some of the moisture. Coconut palm sugar is the nectar heated to completely evaporate moisture leaving the remaining crystals. A natural form of sugar is always a better choice, just keep in mind that it is still sugar but certainly a lower glycemic choice.
GI – 15
Agave… oh how you fool us. Agave is one of those sweeteners mentioned earlier that has a low GI level but converts to fructose, and then to fat. In fact, agave is almost all fructose. Don’t be fooled by those claiming it is a natural sweetener. Most agave nectars today are majorly processed stripping any beneficial quality to it. They should actually be calling this product agave syrup as it is even worse for you than refined white sugar.
GI – 0
Stevia extract is the best natural sweetener in our opinion however it often gets a bad wrap. Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana bush. It sometimes gets a bad wrap because of the fillers that companies will add to it. The stevia you can purchase in a grocery store is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. However, industrial grade stevia is about 600 times sweeter than sugar because it has no fillers. The reason companies add fillers is because if you opened a packet size serving of pure stevia, the amount would be so scant that there would be nothing to fill the packet. Fillers are necessary to give volume to a small serving size. Stevia is recognized for having great health benefits but it is important to choose the right brand. Generally stevia used in most commercial grade products contains commercial grade stevia. Our ready-to-blend smoothies use 100% pure, organic Reb A stevia extract free from any added fillers or chemicals. Click here to learn more about our smoothie blends.
Choosing the right sweetener really comes down to what’s right for you. Although there are many things to consider, just remember that moderation is the most important deciding factor in choosing between them.