Sugar is harm to the Health
Awareness of its harmful effects has increased dramatically in the past few years. Despite what some people would have you believe, empty calories are just the tip of the iceberg. Sugar, due to its high amount of the simple sugar fructose, can wreak havoc on your metabolism. Consumed in excess, it causes high cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance and fat buildup in the liver and abdominal cavity. Added sugar (and its evil twin… high fructose corn syrup) is believed to be a key driver of some of the world’s leading killers… including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Agave nectar (often called Agave syrup) is a very popular sweetener in the natural health community. This sweetener is touted as a healthy alternative to sugar because it has a low glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) is the potential of foods to lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. Some studies show that eating a lot of high GI foods is unhealthy. But the harmful effects of sugar have very little to do with the glycemic index and everything to do with the large amount of fructose and Agave is high in fructose.
Fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin in the short term, but when consumed in high amounts it leads to insulin resistance a long-term effect that will chronically elevate blood sugar and insulin levels. Having blood sugars go up for a short time isn’t that bad, but having them chronically elevated (high all the time) is a recipe for disaster.
Organically grown sugar is still sugar and whether it is “raw” or not doesn’t make any difference. The way this sweetener is processed may be different from the “regular” sugar you find on the supermarket shelves, but the chemical composition is exactly the same. Most importantly, your body won’t recognize the difference. It will break the sugar down into glucose and fructose in the digestive tract and it will have the exact same effects on your metabolism.
This is plain deception by the food manufacturers, done in order to hide the true sugar content of foods from the consumer. Really… if you see “evaporated” and “juice” in the same word on an ingredients label, it should make you wonder what else the manufacturer is trying to hide from you.
When the sweetener reaches your intestine and liver, your body won’t recognize any difference between “evaporated juice” and plain old sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
When sugar is made, molasses form as a by-product. Sometimes, after the sugar has been refined and processed, small amounts of molasses are added back into it.
This gives the sugar a brown color and it is then called brown sugar. Molasses are about 50% sugar, but they also contain a small amounts of minerals. Put simply, brown sugar is regular sugar diluted with a slightly less unhealthy, less concentrated sugar.
Coconut sugar is derived from the sap (sugary circulating fluid) of the coconut plant. The manufacturing method is very natural… it simply involves extracting the sugary fluid, then allowing the water to evaporate. Coconut sugar contains a small amount of fiber and a few nutrients, while also having a lower glycemic index than regular sugar.
But again… the glycemic index is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the harmful effects of sugar. What really matters is whether this product is high in fructose or not. Coconut sugar is actually very high in fructose. It contains a small amount of free fructose, but 75-80% of it is sucrose, which is half fructose.
Therefore, the total fructose content of coconut sugar is somewhere around 35-45%, give or take. Due to the slightly smaller amount of fructose than sugar, and the tiny amounts of fiber and nutrients, you could say that coconut sugar is less unhealthy than regular sugar, gram for gram.
Honey contains some nutrients… including antioxidants and trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is about 80% sugar, by weight. That being said, several studies have compared honey and plain sugar and noted that honey had slightly less harmful effects metabolism. Like coconut sugar, honey is “less bad” than regular sugar.
If you’re healthy, having some quality honey in moderation is probably fine. It is definitely a better choice than plain sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
But honey is not a harmless sweetener and certainly won’t help you lose weight, like some people would have you believe.
All the sugar you eat will go down to your intestine, get broken down into glucose and fructose and eventually reach the liver. Your liver does not know (or care) whether the sugar you eat is organic or not.