March 01, 2024   5:01am
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Food, Fitness & Health Stefanie on Eating

The Scoop on Sugar

I always say to my clients: “Sugar is sugar is sugar.” Whether it is white sugar, brown sugar (light or dark), evaporated cane juice (Florida Crystals, Succanat, Rapadura), date sugar or honey, it is all sugar. It’s not realistic to avoid sugar, and that’s not something that I promote in any way. The real question I find myself addressing all the time is: “What is the healthiest sugar to consume?”

What we commonly know as sugar is typically some form of granulated sugar whether white granulated sugar, sugar in the raw or brown sugar (either light or dark). All have little to no fiber; thus, when eaten, the sugar is immediately absorbed into the blood stream resulting in a spike in our blood sugar — something we ultimately want to keep at a minimum. On the other hand, liquid sugars such as honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt and molasses all contain some fiber; thus, they get absorbed into the blood stream at a slower pace as fiber slows down absorption. Therefore, when choosing sugar, go with the liquid varieties.

If a recipe calls for a 1 cup granulated sugar, I typically suggest going with 3/4-1 cup liquid sugar as a replacement.

The “skinny” on sugar:

  1. White sugar-sugar is extracted from sugarcane by an energy intensive process. It is then filtered and further clarified
  2. Florida crystals-evaporated cane juice
  3. Raw sugar-pure sweetness are extracted from the sugarcane juices, retaining some of the natural molasses in the crystals
  4. Brown sugar (light and dark)-made by adding molasses to white refined sugar; the color and texture of the syrup is determine by the ratio of white sugar to molasses
  5. Succanat-evaporated cane juice with molasses kept intact
  6. Rapadura- evaporated cane juice with molasses kept intact
  7. Date sugar-more food than sweetener (does not dissolve in water); can substitute one cup of date sugar for 1 cup granulated sugar
  8. Maple syrup-sweetener extracted from pale trees; boiled to clarify
  9. Honey- Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining
  10. Brown rice syrup-derived from culturing rice with enzymes; slowly absorbed into bloodstream due to complex carbohydrate and maltose content
  11. Barley malt-derived from sprouted barley; also slowly absorbed into bloodstream
  12. Molasses-made from 100% pure, natural sugarcane juices, clarified, reduced, and blended
  13. Agave-fructose sweetener extracted from Mexico’s agave plant
  14. Stevia-an herb that is sweeter than sugar; considered a dietary supplement


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