What's the deal with all the sugars out there?
White,brown,organic,sugar in the raw, natural sugar, turbinado, sucanat, rapudura...and the list goes on and on....
So, let me start by saying, sugar is still sugar and you need to limit the intake in general. It still has calories and it is an enemy to our body. However, the body does requires a certain amount sugar to function, we just eat too much of it. The best sources come from fruits and veggies. There are a lot of natural sweeteners out there that still have the calories in them, and there are some that don't . See my list of sweeteners that I like.
Sugar causes a number of problems in the body when you have too much. It's not just the empty wasted calories..
- It suppress your immune system. When you eat a large dose of sugar, your body temporally has difficult time fighting in immune responses, which can take hours to wear off.
- Sugar promotes inflammation. Eating too much sugar promotes excessive inflammation as an immune response and promotes disease and aging.
- Sugar raises your insulin levels.When you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels go up and your pancreas releases insulin in response. When your blood sugar levels go down, insulin levels return to normal. But when you eat a lot of sugar, you’re body is constantly relying on the release of insulin. Over time, it takes more and more insulin to get the job done. Then...welcome to diabetes. So when my 97 yr old Papaw Joe says "don't let them eat all that sugar, they will be diabetics" what do you know...he is right!
My neighbor called last night and said what is "natural sugar" on the ingredients list. The first thing I told her was to look up at the nutrition label and tell me how many grams per serving it has. It was off a bottle of "simply lemonade" and it said "natural sugar" so it sounds healthy, right? Well..it has 40 grams of sugar. The World Health Organization suggests limit sugar calories from any source to about 10% of our daily calories. For an average size person..that's about 50 grams. So no matter what your source, you still need to limit your intake of it. It is healthier to eat the most natural form of anything, so if you have a recipe that calls for sugar..you want to use it in it's purest form. "Natural" really doesn't mean anything.
So here is a rundown of sugars for your info..I'm going to start with them from best to worse. I am basing that strictly on what has been done to it..all the process. The reason for processing sugar and making it white is so that companies can get more bang for their buck. They strip the vitamins and nutrients out and use it in other ways, such as molasses.
- Rapadura and Sucanat ..these are basically the same thing..also called "Organic Whole Cane Sugar". It is brown and looks like dirt. Some water has been removed to make the crystals more uniform. Because it still has all it's nutrients and minerals. It is the best form of sugar to use in replace of refined sugars. It has lower calorie and higher nutrients. See the rap sheet for it compared to other sugars here.
- Molasses: When white sugar is made from sugarcane juice, this is what’s left over. It’s loaded with minerals, especially iron. But it’s still 90-plus percent sugar.
- Muscavado, Turbinado, Demarara and 'Organic Raw Sugar' are all refined, though not as much as white sugar. They are the product of heating, clarifying, then dehydrating the cane juice until crystals form, then spinning it in a centrifuge so the crystals are separated from the syrupy juice (producing molasses). The clarifying process is usually done with chemicals, although sometimes through pressure filtration. The crystals are then reunited with some of the molasses in artificial proportions. The molasses contains vitamins and minerals, and is recommended for a healthy diet, but the crystals themselves are pretty much 'empty carbs.'.
- White sugar is refined much further. The raw sugar is washed with a syrup solution, then with hot water, clarified (usually chemically) to remove impurities, decolonized (in some countries they use bone char made from cattle bones), concentrated, evaporated, reboiled until crystals form, centrifuged again to separate, then dried, and by then any lingering goodness has completely disappeared! All other sugars are refined sugars of different sizes, and various stages of processing. Crystallised refined sugars are pure sucrose and contain no nutrients beyond calories. They are a "pure" industrial product, and can hardly be considered a food. Some would say they are closer to a drug, which affects our bodies adversely and is very addictive. Not only do they not give anything beneficial to our bodies, they actually take away from the vitamins and minerals in what we are eating. People who get headaches from eating refined sugars usually find they have no problem with Rapadura
- Brown sugar is white sugar mixed with molasses