SWEETENERS- WHICH ONE IS BEST & HOW FRUCTOSE EFFECTS THE BODY
The talk on sweeteners is becoming more and more popular these days and again, there is an abundance of information on which sweetener is best. When I use the word sugar I am referring to fructose because that is the substance that the body has a hard time metabolising in excess amounts. Looking back in the cave man days, sugar was found only in the form of fruit. Nowadays sugar is extremely easy to get your hands on and unfortunately is hidden in many packaged foods and we are consuming much too much every single day. Going back to the cave man, yes they had access to sugar, from fruit however, they came across it very rarely. It was only every so often that they would find it. This way of consuming sugar works perfect for the body because it was only receiving a small amount and can metabolise it just fine. However, these days many are consuming large amounts of sugar on a regular basis and it overwhelms the body’s ability to process the substance.
But what does it actually do to the body you ask? As I mentioned earlier the body cannot metabolise large amounts of fructose and therefore will need to get rid of it somehow. Fructose is processed in the liver. When too much fructose enters the liver it cannot process it fast enough for the body to use as energy and instead, the body will convert the remaining fructose to fat, that is stored as triglycerides. This high triglycerides cause many problems such as heart disease, insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes, decreased immunity and weight gain. Belly fat is often caused by excess fructose.
Where is fructose found? When you think of fructose, fruit immediately comes to mind. Yes fruit does contain fructose and that’s why I recommend 0-3 servings per day (if you do not choose to eat fruit simply up your vegetable intake). Different types of fruit will have different amounts of fructose too. However, the amount of fructose is relatively small compared to other sweeteners. Also, fruit comes with fibre which helps the body metabolise the fructose as well as many nutrients. The main problem comes with added sweeteners. Ordinary table sugar (also called sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 45% glucose and 55% fructose. Agave syrup can have up to a whopping 90% fructose. Coconut sugar, (which is pretty much palm sugar just from a coconut tree, it’s taken for the bud of the tree not the coconut) is a tricky one. It’s 70-79% sucrose and 3-9% of glucose and fructose each. But here’s the catch, sucrose is half glucose and half fructose so that makes coconut sugar 38-48% fructose, pretty much the same as table sugar. Honey is 45-50% fructose and maple syrup is also around 45-50% fructose. Although the later sweeteners are natural and contain nutrients and minerals, they are still high in fructose and should be only be consumed in tiny amounts.
Brown rice syrup is 0% fructose. It’s made up of 45% maltose, 3% glucose and 50% complex carbohydrates.
So if you feel like something sweet, fruit is the best option. If you’re going to do some baking, brown rice syrup is your better option. Remember though, sweeteners should be consumed occasionally, like the cave people once did!