Sweet, addictive and energy fuelling – we all crave sugar at some point of the week. It’s hard to avoid sugar all together but here’s which ones to pick when you want to cave in for a sweet treat.
Stevia: Although it’s not classified as a ‘real’ sugar, Stevia is a natural sweetener that is derived from the leaves of green Stevia Rebaudiana plants. The benefits of Stevia are plentiful; not only can it be up to 30 times sweeter than other sugars – but it also has 0 calories, does not raise blood sugar levels nor feed candida infections. However, processed Stevia may contain harmful additives and chemicals that may be harmful to dental health – thus it is important to be mindful of how your Stevia is processed.
Cons: The aftertaste of Stevia takes a while to get used it. Furthermore, the overuse of Stevia can lead to a heavier reliance on sweet tastes.
Honey: Honey is another naturally occurring sugar containing traces of several vitamins and minerals. Natural honey also contains anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, aiding in its use as for cough and sore throat relief. Manuka honey is another high grade honey that is known to contain many benefits such as having healing properties, curing skin problems and aiding in cases of tooth decay and irritable bowel syndrome. Manuka Honey also presents an array of advantages for oral health as it has been known to prevent dental caries, prevents the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity and helps remove plaque and gingivitis.
Cons: Honey, like most sugars are highly calorific and are high in carbs.
Coconut Sugar: Coconut sugar is extracted from the sap of coconut trees and is a natural shade of brown. It also contains traces of minerals such as potassium, inulin and magnesium.
Cons: The sugar is known to cause advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which lead to the breakdown of the collagen in your skin. Furthermore, it is still a high-calorie sweetener.
Raw Cane Sugar: Raw Cane Sugar (a.k.a. Turbinado sugar) is an unrefined sugar that is derived from the
sugarcane plant. It’s often added to non-diary milks such as almonds, hemp and cashew milks in the form of cane juice.
Cons: Hard to find, high in calories and high in carbs. Raw Cane sugar also presents negatives for oral health as its high sucrose content is easily broken down by bacteria in the mouth, depositing acidic waste that leads to tooth decay.
Agave: Agave is often mistaken as a natural ‘healthier’ sweetener that is lower in calories. However, apart from not causing a great rise in blood sugar, agave is just as bad as any other sweetener.
Cons: This sugar has a very high content of fructose which can lead to depleted liver function, obesity and other health related issues if consumed excessively.
Brown Sugar: Brown sugar gets it colour by leftover molasses from the refining process is added back into the processes sugar.
Cons: Contains minor traces of nutrients that are not in enough quantity to be of any benefit. Furthermore, it is another highly calorific sugar.
White Granulated Sugar: Also known as table sugar; white granulated sugar is the most popular by many for the way it easily melts and blends into hot and cold beverages.
Cons: Most chemically processed and refined sugar that’s highly calorific and contains no health benefits. Furthermore, table sugar is around 99% pure sucrose, leading to negative effects such as caries and tooth decay in dental health.
Other Artificial Sweeteners: Although sweeteners such as Aspartame and Splenda are sugar-free and non-caloric; they are purely chemical compounds.
Cons: Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame is also known as a potential carcinogen that has been linked to leukaemia if taken excessively.2 Thus, it’s better to stay away from artificial sweeteners and diet soda’s altogether.
At the end of the day sugar, is sugar. No sugar is free from health or oral health risks but when you substitute the types of sugar used and consume it in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet and exercise regime, they can be delicious additions in food. Overall, we recommend you to limit the consumption of sugar in your diet where possible.
1. "Everything you should know about Manuka Honey." Health Line. December 9, 2016. http://www.healthline.com/health/manuka-honey#overview1.
2. "Aspartame." American Cancer Society. May 28, 2014. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/aspartame.html.