I often get asked this one. There’s many on the market now and books about quitting it. Rapidura, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses. Honey, raw sugar, white sugar and brown sugar.
Which should I choose?
The answer is, none of them.
Sugar has become a little bit of an elitist ingredient now, with recipes for cakes, biscuits, slices emerging by health gurus as ‘healthy’ and ‘guilt free’ because they replace white sugar with agave nectar or rice malt syrup for example.
It’s true, some of them are less refined, contain minerals, and have a lower GI though it still makes me think – what about the fact that the recipe for the cake still contains a ton of butter, and a truck load of chocolate, not to mention the kilojoules in the overall dish?
I see many dessert advertised as ‘healthy and sugar free’ yet loaded with rice malt syrup (sugar) palm sugar (sugar), honey and butter and not a lot of anything else.
Sugar is sugar and still contains 17 kilojoules per gram, or approximately 85 kilojoules per teaspoon.
Even if it’s less refined.
Even if it’s has a lower GI score (raises your blood sugars more slowly).
Despite whether it is organic, less refined etc, if eaten above the kilojoule requirements for your body, it will contribute to weight gain.
Sugar is sugar and we should always try to eat less of it.
Rice malt syrup in particular is incorrectly considered ‘healthy’ by some foodies, although it is still a sugar! My gripe with rice malt is that it is highly processed to get it to the clear runny stage. It is also less sweet than sugar or honey, so I find when using it in recipes you often have to add twice as much if not more which means you are in fact using twice the calories. I Quit Sugar enthusiasts will say ‘but it doesn’t contain fructose, so it’s healthy’ but that really is insignificant. If you eat above the number of kilojoules your body requires you will put on weight regardless of whether it is low in fructose. And remember, rice malt syrup contains calories.
For example, if your body requires 7500 kilojoules and you cook a cake (and use rice malt syrup), eat 2 pieces and end up consuming 8000 kilojoules, your body stores that 500 kilojoules as weight. It doesn’t miraculously say “Oh hold on, the rice malt syrup didn’t have fructose!”. It just registers the excess 500 kilojoules and chucks them on your hips.
The Nutrition Guru uses:
- Rapidura and coconut sugar are my choices. Although they have the exact same number of kilojoules as white sugar, coconut and Rapidura are a low GI meaning they raise your blood sugar levels more slowly and evenly. If I’m going to consume sugar, I want it to play less havock on my blood sugar levels. These sugars are the ‘first press’ and often contain low levels of minerals which aren’t found in processed sugars. You can find them in your health food store and online.
- Rice malt syrup – I use it when making sorbet, gelato and icecream as the syrup gives a fabulous texture.
- Agave nectar – heavily processed much the same as white sugar.
- Maple syrup – you can’t go past a smidgen of maple drizzled on top of crunchy granola or in a glass of warm milk. it is less processed than table sugar.
- Honey – holds antifungal and antibacterial properties and unheated honey is the most natural beautiful creation of nature you can find on this ear.
And we haven’t even gone into the fructose debate or delved into the likes of herbal sweeteners such as Natvia and Stevia. Next week’s blog post perhaps?
So do you take from this article? Sugar is sugar, no matter how processed, fancy, or popular it is.