Refined white sugar, referred to as table sugar, is readily available and consumed around the world. Ironically, the term ‘refined’ means to ‘purify’; however, white sugar is processed by stripping all of the nutrients and pure wholesome qualities from the sugarcane. In other words: Refined does not equal Pure.
Creating more confusion, Health Canada regulations require ingredients to be listed in order of volume from greatest to least and various sweeteners as separate ingredients, such as corn syrup, molasses and evaporated cane juice, despite the fact that they are simple sugars and the body processes them in the same way. The American Heart Association suggests men consume less than nine teaspoons of sugar a day whereas women require a maximum of six. On average, Canadians consume 26 teaspoons of sugar daily (40 kg a year). Most Canadians aren’t aware how much sugar they consume because most is hidden in processed food.
In Canada, we are accustomed to warnings about too much salt or fats, yet alarmingly Health Canada has no recommended limit specific to daily sugar intake despite links of sugar to cancer and various diseases. To limit your sugar consumption, it is best to prepare your own food and explore using other sweeteners. There are an abundance of alternative sweeteners. When choosing one suitable for you, consider the nutritional properties, texture and the glycemic index (GI).
Here are a few alternative sweetners to consider introducing into your diet.
Artificial Sweetners: These sugary-sensations can be easily identified by the colour of the packets: Saccharin is pink. Aspartame is Blue. Sucralose is yellow. Despite many health concerns and allegations as to the safety of these sweeteners, they are common in diet or sugar-free products because they are calorie-free. GI: 0
Stevia: Up to 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia comes from a leaf native to South America where it was used as a sweetener for centuries. It does not contribute to problems commonly associated with sugar. Stevia contains 0 calories but has a bitter aftertaste. GI: > 1
Organic Sugar Cane: Grown without harmful chemicals or pesticides, organic cane sugar supports the full-bodied sweetness of sugarcane, is less processed. It contains 11 minerals, six vitamins, antioxidants and 17 amino acids. This alternative is comprised of fructose, glucose and sucrose. GI: 60-65
Raw Honey: Often coined a superfood and remedy for many ailments, raw honey is rich in amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, and photonutrients; yet when heated or processed, it loses these properties and will lack these benefits. Honey contains more calories than sugar but is sweeter, so you can use less of it. GI: 30
Pure Coconut Palm Sugar: Coconut is making a comeback. As a low-carb sugar substitute, palm sugar has gained popularity but calorie-wise, it’s very similar to sugar although significantly higher in micronutrients as it less processed. It is very low in fructose making it safer for diabetics. It also comes in a powder and has a rich, complex flavour that can be added to sweeten anything. GI: 35
Too much sugar wreaks havoc on the immune system, has intense impact on the brain and can create addict-like effects on the body. It feeds bacteria, viruses, fungus and other parasites. It also increases type two Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, can lead to hyperactivity, cancer, kidney problems, depression, schizophrenia, hypercholesterolemia, osteoporosis, tooth decay and more. Next time you reach for that sugar bowl, consider these healthier alternatives. Your body will thank you.