Organic cane sugar vs. artificial sweeteners: Is all sugar bad for you?
by SmartyPants Staff
Just as our bodies need good fats to thrive, they also require good sugars.
But what makes a sugar a bad sugar or a good sugar?
What’s the difference between organic cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, Stevia and other artificial sweeteners?
Organic cane sugar vs. table sugar
A lot has changed since the days of chewing on a sugar cane. Lime is now added and high heat applied. Water is evaporated from the solution and sugar crystals are added.
All the nutrients and fiber in the original plant have been removed and turned into molasses. The resulting product, and the most common white sugar on the market, is bleached by sulfur dioxide.
Health experts believe that these extra steps, especially discarding the nutrients, are what contribute to ill health.
If you can back up the process to the step before the nutrients are removed, you can have a healthier sugar. It’s certainly closer to nature.
Thus, the good sugar is organic cane sugar with the nutrients left in.
The bad sugar would be bleached, nutrient-free table sugar. Organic cane sugar has another benefit: it contains no chemical or pesticide residues.
How high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made
Many health experts label high fructose corn syrup as a bad sugar, mainly because it contributes to weight gain, may contain mercury, affects appetite, and is linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Recent research even suggests it makes you dumber! The FDA labels it as a good sugar, listing it on the GRAS list. This is the Generally Regarded as Safe list. But natural food enthusiasts believe that HFCS is unsafe and even dangerous to the body.
The Corn Refiners Association believes it is a good sugar. This sugar often starts with genetically-engineered corn and ends up as a liquid called high fructose corn syrup.
There are different types of HFCS: HFCS 55, HFCS 42, and HFCS 90. The number stands for the percentage of fructose in the high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup starts out with corn. It then becomes corn starch, and next, corn syrup. Enzymes produced from the mold Aspergillus are used in these beginning stages.
Next, more enzymes are added to get a higher concentration of fructose. HFCS is sweeter than sugar and tastes good to the taste buds. High fructose corn syrup is often added to real honey as a way to increase yields.
There’s a lot of talk about why HFCS could be so bad for the body. Is it related to GMO foods themselves, which according to Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, causes damaged organs and immune system dysfunction in animal studies?
Or is HFCS bad because the mold Aspergillus produces the most potent cancer-causing agent in the world?
One other alternative is that HFCS alters the brain’s perception of hunger and induces metabolic disorders which are difficult to reverse.
Perhaps it’s all three of these factors working together. Another resource can be found here.
And this is why many consumers have opted out of using HFCS – forever.
Stevia, natural plant 200+ times sweeter than sugar
Cane sugar is sweet to the taste buds but Stevia is even sweeter.
If you grow the plant in your backyard, less than a tenth of one leaf will sweeten a beverage. Simply adding a leaf to a glass of water is enough to draw out some of the sweetness of Stevia.
Surprisingly, even though it is totally natural, Stevia was banned in this country for many years – possibly for political reasons.
Some activists blame Stevia’s ban on the alternative sugar industry, saying that the industry had to make their millions prior to allowing something natural into the market.
The American Botanical Council was behind attempts to get the FDA to lift the ban in 2009, calling the ban unreasonable and illogical.
Health experts call Stevia a good sugar, and studies have proven that it lowers blood sugar levels of diabetics. But that’s not all it has in it that is good. Stevia contains antioxidants and could prevent DNA damage.
With the nation’s high rate of diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, many people would benefit from using a sugar that can lower blood sugar levels. Experts estimate there are millions of people who haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes yet, as well.
Stevia doesn’t cause and is not linked to any disease.
Other non-natural sweeteners lost sweetness with the public
Throughout history, we’ve seen artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin fall from grace with the public.
After thousands of complaints from consumers, the FDA investigated the side effects of this bad sugar. It was linked to 92 different symptoms and diseases.
The FDA recalled Nutrasweet for causing harm. Some of the problems from this sugar include depression, irritability, insomnia, slurred speech, anxiety, memory loss, loss of concentration, migraines and seizures.
This is an example of the concept that if we can go back to nature and use what we find – in a state close to nature – we can stay healthy.
Our best options right now are organic cane sugar and Stevia.
Posted on May 24, 2012
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