With the holidays here, many of us are baking and preparing our favorite goodies. Although most of our favorite recipes call for sugar, some people would like to substitute alternative sweeteners in our recipes. I would like to outline and explain a few of the popular sweeteners here on the market today.
First, let’s talk about granulated sugar, or sucrose. This is refined sugar that most retail grocers sell today. It’s sold for baking and other food preparation, and made from either cane sugar, beet sugar, or both. The average American eats more than 150 pounds annually. It’s a disaccharide, which is a sugar made of 2 simple sugars, or monosaccharides. These 2 simple sugars are called glucose and fructose. Glucose is called blood sugar, or the sugar that circulates in the bloodstream. Fructose is found mainly in fruit, sucrose is converted to these simple sugars in the body. Refined sugar is the most common type of sugar in our diet. It has contributed to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, and now dementia. Natural cane sugar is slightly processed less, and has the same properties, however it has more of a darker blonde color. It’s made from cane sugar alone, and has the same chemical make-up. It basically reacts the same in the body, with negligible differences.
High fructose corn syrup or HFCS may be found in beverages, cereals, and more, and is 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar. Average Americans consume an average of 62 pounds of this sweetener per year. It is a sugar that was discovered in 1965, and marketed in the 70’s. It’s made from corn starch and converted into fructose with specific genetically modified enzymes. Corn refiners have paid more than $50 million trying to convince consumers that the new name of this substance should be corn sugar. Please beware of this. It contributes to many, if all of the same diseases as granulated sugar, including cancer, hypertension, increased cholesterol, and liver stress. Drinking even ½ can of soda with HFCS at breakfast, lunch, and dinner can raise risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Many studies have also shown that products containing HFCS have high levels of mercury. Studies have also found that those who’ve consumed HFCS have had issues with their brains signaling that they are still hungry. This contributes to obesity and diabetes.
Alcohol sugars like erythritol, xylitol, and mannitol are neither sugars nor alcoholic drinks. They are manufactured from sugars. Although these can affect blood sugar, they affect it much less than glucose does. While sugar promotes tooth decay, xylitol actually prevents it, hence many alternative dental products contain it. All of the sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues such as gas and diarrhea when consumed in excess, except erythritol.
Sucralose, or Splenda, the yellow packet, is 600 times sweeter than sugar. This is manufactured by adding chlorine to sucrose. Chlorine is a carcinogen, why would you add it to a food product? It is found in most non-medical grade sports drinks, powders, and protein supplements. It was discovered as a pesticide product, and not meant to be use in food. One of the initial benefits promoting Splenda was that it can used be used for baking, unlike its predecessor, aspartame. Today, they’ve discovered that heating it, makes other dangerous compounds. There was a study done with overweight people with normal blood sugar levels. They consumed the equivalent to one can of soda with sucralose, compared to sugar sodas This was done before a glucose tolerance blood test. What was found was a major fluctuation in insulin and blood sugar. Blood sugar levels were found to be lower than those all-consuming water. Insulin levels were then increased, therefore causing an increase in carb cravings. This product has been therefore linked to an increase in type 2 diabetes.
The bottom line, is try to eat natural sugars whenever possible. When making all food choices, please choose the least processed foods available.
If you have a question for any of my articles, please email me at DrLeisa@CaringPainRelief.com