Honey, Fruit Sugar, Maple Syrup, Brown Sugar and White Sugar – What’s the Difference?
First things first – honey, maple syrup and brown/white sugar affect blood sugar in a similar way. Any diet that is high in any of these can lead to chronic diseases and weight gain. No matter what you chose from this list, use it in limited quantities.
HONEY AND MAPLE SYRUP
Honey has many medicinal properties. It can soothe coughs, treat acne, treat sore throats and so on. Honey and maple syrup don’t have meaningful amounts of vitamins and minerals. There is emerging research showing that honey may be high in antioxidants. The impact that this has in humans is still being determined.
The nice thing about organic honey and maple syrup is that they are less likely to be heavily processed. The same can’t be said for brown and white sugar.
As a side note, according to Ayurvedic medicine, a small amount of raw honey in the diet can help with weight loss. This is not supported by conventional medical research but I have a soft spot for Ayurvedic medicine and thought I’d mention it.
BROWN AND WHITE SUGAR
Most people know this by now but if you don’t: brown sugar is simply white sugar with added molasses. It’s still a refined sugar. There is no more nutritional value in brown sugar than white sugar. Both are highly processed and of little nutritional value beyond providing calories.
Using dates in recipes can be a healthier way to add sweetness to your diet. Dates are high in fiber. A quarter cup can provide 8 grams of fiber (the goal is 25-38 grams/day). Dates and other dried fruit may also be a source of antioxidants. Again, they’ll still raise blood sugar but at least you’re getting other benefits along with it. Try soaking them before blending to make blending easier.
I get a lot of questions about whether fruit is “good or bad”. Fruit does contain natural sugars but they also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other good stuff. You’re definitely not consuming empty calories when you consume fruit. There are even studies demonstrating that fruit consumption can improve blood sugar regulation. Some people worry about the fructose in fruit. The amount of fructose in fruit is low and unlikely to cause issues.
A NOTE ABOUT STEVIA
Stevia seems to be safe in low amounts. Still, I would avoid over-consuming it because not enough is known about it yet.
If you want to optimize your nutritional intake book an appointment or free 15 minute consult.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected].