What is sugar?

Sucre_blanc_cassonade_complet_rapaduraSugar comes under several different names. Sugars need to be identified so they can be easily avoided in our diets. Refined sugars and chemical conversions of sweeteners have absolutely no physical, emotional or mental health benefit to the human body. In fact, adding chemical or some refined sugars is equivalent to adding cocaine into the diet. If a product claims to be “sugar-free” it may just mean there may be artificial sweeteners in it.

Any type of sugar is metabolized the same way in our body. Whether its refined white sugar or agave syrup is processed the same. Our bodies can only process around 2 tablespoons at a time and remember, that which our bodies do not use is turned to fat. Of course there are sweeteners that are less processed and have a lower glycemic index than others (agave syrup has a low sugar spike). If we must have a sweetener, it would make sense to choose evaporated cane juice, for example, over high fructose corn syrup. Or not?

Refined sugar and Value added Products from cane mills_html_bb5db79In theory, some say certain “sugars” are better because they retain some vitamins and minerals after the refining process. However, there is quite some debate whether this is true. Even if they did contain some nutrients the amount would be so small it wouldn’t be worth it. True, in small amounts sugars are not going to immediately harm you, but remember, they are additive and you’re body will continue to harass you for more and more. Better to eliminate it completely.

Plus, most sugar is not vegan. White sugar is processed with bone char. Last time I checked animal bones were not vegan! White sugar is also usually further processed with phosphoric acid, formic acid, sulphur dioxide, preservatives, flocculants, surfactants (lard is frequently used as a defoamer), bleaching agents, and viscosity modifiers

So what other names does “sugar” go by these days? Lets have a look.

  • agave nectar
  • barley malt
  • beet sugar
  • brown rice syrup
  • brown sugar
  • cane crystals
  • cane juice
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • coconut sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • date sugar
  • evaporated cane juice
  • fructose
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • grape sugar
  • glucose
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • jaggery
  • lactose (from milk)
  • liquid fructose
  • malt syrup
  • maltodextrin
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • refiner’s syrup
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum syrup
  • sucanat
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • turbinado sugar

And the fake sugar? The chemical stuff?

  • acesulfame K
  • acesulfame potassium
  • aspartame
  • neotame
  • saccharin
  • sodium saccharin
  • calcium saccharin
  • acid saccharin
  • sucralose

So what effects does sugar generally have on a person’s body? First off, sugar is addictive as stated above. The sweeter it is, the more our body craves it. Sucralose, for example, is 600 times sweeter than refined white sugar. Yikes! Sugar gives that nice high and affects the pleasure centers in the brain. Afterwards comes the crash. Sugar has been linked to health problems such as:

  • addiction
  • speeds aging
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • headaches and migraines
  • depression and anxiety
  • cardiovascular disease
  • tooth decay
  • dimentia
  • fatty liver
  • fluid retention
  • constipation
  • wrinkles
  • weakened eyesight
  • macular degeneration

…just to name a few…

So what are some of the best choices for healthy vegans? How exactly do we get rid of the sugar demons?

sugar_cane_01The best solution is to find out which ones have the least amount of processing possible. Rapadura is a type of sugar with minimal amounts of processing. In fact, Rapadura may have the least amount of processing out of anything else. One can also look for sucanat that is unrefined and unbleached. Obviously if one wants au naturel natural sugar cane directly in stalk form is going to be the best bet.

-1.bartlettpearsOr take the whole foods approach! Fruit is an excellent sweet tooth conquerer, once you have already abolished the sugar demons, that is. If you are still addicted to mountain dew and dunkin donuts, a nice juicy pear or sweet banana is going to taste like bread. So cut the sugar addiction and be on your way to some healthy, hearty, naturally sweet foods! Fruit adds fiber vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and water, which your body needs anyways. And it is impossible to overdose on sugar from fruit!

A coke, for example, has about 60 grams of added sugar in a 20 oz bottle (plus who knows what other chemicals). An orange? About 12 grams. And that orange gives your body much needed Vitamin C, antioxidants and some folic acid. Time to make the switch. Your body will thank you!

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