The food world is crowded with chatter about why you should or shouldn’t being using sugar, and which sugar or sugar replacements you should or should not be using. It is incredibly confusing and sadly, often incredibly misleading.
So which one should you use? Well it is up to you, but here are some facts to consider first.
At the end of the day it is the habit of eating sweet foods, regardless of how or what they are sweetened with, which needs to be reduced. If using alternative sweeteners or sugars helps you do this, then that is fabulous.
BUT, that does not mean that by using alternative sweeteners and sugars you can eat chocolate cake or fudge all day long. That is not going to help you lose weight and is not part of a healthy weight loss plan.
Let us look at a couple of these sugar alternatives, to understand them a little further.
Sugar and its replacements. Which ones are good for me and how do I use them?
1. Rice Malt Syrup
Popular with the community trying to reduce their fructose as it is made up of maltotriose, glucose and maltose. As its name suggests it is made from brown rice.
PROS: It is a good option for vegans that don’t want to eat honey, white processed sugar and avoiding fructose. It is lower than sugar in terms of energy.
CONS: A very high glycaemic index which means the energy is released very quickly into the bloodstream. It is also expensive.
Honey is as we all know, from bees. It is made up of fructose and glucose so if you have issues with fructose, it might not be the best choice
PROS: It is natural and if you choose a good quality honey it is not as processed as white commercial sugar. Its glycaemic index is relatively low which means that the energy is released into the bloodstream slower than regular white sugar. It is slightly lower than regular sugar in terms of energy.
CONS: It is from animals which can be an issue for vegans. And it has fructose in it, if you are trying to avoid that, but for the rest of us, it is sweet and dandy.
3. Maple Syrup
This syrup is from maple tree sap. Make sure you find the 100% pure maple syrup, otherwise you are just buying flavoured sugar syrup.
PROS: It is a natural by-product of boiling down the tree sap and it’s glycaemix index is lower, similar to honey. It is slightly lower than regular sugar in terms of energy.
CONS: It can be expensive, especially if you buy the 100% pure maple syrup. If you are avoiding fructose, it is present, although lower than honey.
4. Agave Syrup
This is made from the Agave plant and is touted as a great option as you use much less of it as it is very sweet. The reason why it is so sweet is because of its high fructose content.
PROS: You can use a lot less of it as it is very sweet. It is from a natural source from the agave plant. It also has a very low glycaemic index, lower than maple or honey. It is slightly lower than regular sugar in terms of energy.
CONS: It is very high in fructose, around 50%, which might not be tolerated by some people. More expensive than sugar.
5. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is made from coconut palm blossoms and is made up of glucose, fructose and sucrose.
PROS: It has a low glycaemic index similar to Agave Syrup and it a natural source.
CONS: It is very expensive and not a good option if you are trying to avoid fructose. It isn’t much different to regular sugar in energy.
Here is a very handy little table we put together with everything you need to know about SUGAR.
What is glucose, sucrose and fructose?
Sugars are made up of smaller particles or smaller sugars. The simplest form in a monosaccharide which are glucose, fructose, galactose, ribose and xylose. These simple monosaccharides combine to form disaccharides such as sucrose (table sugar) or lactose (milk sugar). Each of these types of sugars behave differently in the body and often differently in different people’s bodies.