Few will argue that added sugar is perhaps the single most deadly ingredient currently in our diet, and with each passing study we are finding out more about just how harmful it can be. Despite what some people are going to tell you, the truth is that sugar's high fructose content will do a number on your metabolism. In as little as ten weeks, high levels of fructose can result in high cholesterol and triglycerides, fat increases in the liver and abdominal cavity and insulin resistance.
Sugar, and its co-conspirator, high fructose corn syrup, are often cited as contributing factors in deadly diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Sugar is also extremely addictive and consuming the smallest amount may leave you wanting more and more. If you feel like you just need a sugar fix, a detox may be in order. This can help your body get rid of harmful toxins which will leave you feeling better and will also reduce your sugar cravings.
Increasingly, we're seeing claims of "healthy" sugar-based sweeteners in advertising but the problem is that these are generally just as bad, in some cases worse, than sugar.
Here are 6 of these "healthy" sugars, which are actually unhealthy.
Honey does have antioxidants and small amounts of vitamins and minerals, but despite that, it is still, by weight, about 80% sugar.
Some studies that have compared honey and plain sugar have concluded that honey is less harmful to the metabolism than sugar, and while that may be true, being "less harmful" than sugar doesn't necessarily make honey good for you.
While enjoying some good quality honey periodically probably won't harm you, it should not be considered as a harmless substitute for sugar, though it is a better choice than either sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Honey will also not help you lose weight, no matter what other people say.
2. Coconut Sugar
The extraction of coconut sugar from the coconut is natural and consists of allowing the water to evaporate from the sap. This sugar does contain small levels of fiber and nutrients, and it does rank lower on the glycemic index than sugar, but despite that what we really want to look at is whether or not a food contains fructose, and if it does, how much.
Coconut sugar, in fact, has a very high level of fructose; a small amount of that is free fructose, and the rest comes from coconut sugar's sucrose (half of which, when it's broken down, is fructose). The sucrose content of coconut sugar is 75-80%, and that means that the total fructose content of coconut sugar checks in between 35-45%.
So, similar to honey, coconut sugar is "less unhealthy" than sugar (which contains 55% fructose) but the difference is slight.
3. Brown Sugar
A byproduct of the sugar-making process is molasses. Once sugar has been refined and processed, a manufacturer can make "brown" sugar by reintroducing a certain amount of these to the sugar. While these molasses do contain traces of minerals, they also check in at about 50% sugar.
In a nutshell, brown sugar is really nothing more than regular crystallized sugar mixed with molasses to give it its brown coloring and richer taste. Its minute mineral content in no compensates for the harmful effects generally attributed to sugar.
4. Evaporated Cane Juice
Beware. When you see a label containing "evaporated cane juice," it is nothing more than an industry term for sugar, drummed up by manufacturers in an attempt to deceive the consumer. So any time you read a label and you see the term "evaporated cane juice", be skeptical and ask yourself: What other harmful ingredients in this product is the manufacturer trying to slip past me?The truth is that your body will recognize "evaporated cane juice" in the exact same manner it does regular sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
5. Raw Organic Cane Sugar
This is another fancy name change for sugar in an attempt to trick consumers, but again, don't take the bait -- it's still just sugar. Manufacturers will put "organically grown" on the label, and yes, there may actually be some variation in the way the sugar is grown, but the chemical composition will still be regular sugar. And that is how your body will read and react to this product.
6. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar (or "agave syrup", same thing) has become a popular "natural" alternative sweetener and one of the main reasons it has is because it ranks low on the glycemic index (GI). What the GI measures is the potential for a given food to run up your blood sugar level. Of course the GI does have value because eating too many high index foods can lead to all kinds so health problems.
However, the GI has nothing to do with reporting the harmful effects of sugar, so using it as a way to promote a high fructose food like agave nectar is a little deceptive.
Truth is, agave nectar is high in fructose, and while short-term use may be acceptable, long-term use can often lead to insulin resistance and, by extension, elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. The fructose level in agave clocks in at between 70% and 90% which is notably more than regular crystal sugar. So Agave is even more detrimental to health than regular sugar.
So Should You Eat Healthy Sugars?
The bottom line here is that your body is going to read and react to the above products the exact same way it would regular sugar. These foods will get broken down into fructose and glucose regardless of what their source was.