How Sweet: The News Behind Sweeteners

sugar packetsEarly in the morning, it’s easy to add one too many spoons of sugar into your coffee. But what is sugar doing to your body? Is there a better way to sweeten your morning coffee while still satisfying your sweet tooth? It’s time to talk about the different types of sugars and sweeteners and how they affect your body. When it comes to sweeteners, moderation is key.

Agave nectar – Relatively new to the market, it was once seen as a healthy alternative to sugar, but now it’s seen to be worse than high fructose corn syrup. It consists of 70 to 90 percent fructose, which goes straight into the liver and increases your risk of heart disease.

Artificial sugar – Artificial sugars are found in many brands; some examples include Sweet and Low and Splenda. While they claim to help you lose weight, studies have shown they may actually cause weight gain.

Sugar – Regular sugar contains 50 percent glucose, which spikes your blood sugar, and 50 percent fructose, which goes straight to your liver. Everyone loves to add sugar to their coffee, so the solution? Try experimenting with different brands and roasts of coffee until you find one that you can drink black, without having to add sugar.

High fructose corn syrup – High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has found its way to sneak into food products across the market. As we already know, fructose goes straight to your liver, but HFCS also makes people resistant to leptin, a hormone which restrains appetite. So next time you shop, be aware and see if HFCS is listed on the food label as an ingredient.

Stevia – Extracted from the stevia plant, it can come in many forms. It has zero calories, zero sugar and is also considered zero on the glycemic index. It’s sweeter than sugar, so start off small. A little goes a long way.

Honey- Not only a great treat, local honey is also said to help alleviate allergy symptoms. Honey also contains many rich enzymes and a wide variety of minerals such as iron. Because it still contains fructose, it’s important that it’s used in moderation.

Maple syrup- If you use maple syrup make sure the label says 100 percent real and that it contains no HFCS. Used in moderation, it’s great because it’s low in calories, packed with vitamins and minerals, and can help boost antioxidants. A recommended serving of sugar is about one tablespoon.

Join the conversation. What’s your favorite healthy sweetener? What do you add to your coffee to sweeten it up?

Content Expert: Anna Polucha, MS, RD, LDN, Clinical Dietitian, UMass Memorial Weight Center

  9 comments for “How Sweet: The News Behind Sweeteners

  1. Brenda
    August 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    My husband just brought home a bottle of Coconut Nectar, any finds on this?

    • UMass Memorial
      August 15, 2018 at 10:34 am

      We asked Anna, our expert, who said “I would equate coconut nectar to maple syrup. It is pure sugar so must be used in moderation. One tablespoon has 13 grams of sugar. “

  2. Anonymous
    August 8, 2018 at 8:55 am

    What about this product called Monk Fruit? Any information on that?

  3. Anonymous
    August 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Good article, sugar so addictive.

  4. Gary Hammon
    August 8, 2018 at 8:28 am

    The article says that Honey contains fructose – is that all honey, or can I buy honey without fructose? Thank you for any information.

    • UMass Memorial
      August 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

      According to our content expert, Anna, “This question is hard to answer without getting into chemistry, but the short answer is no. The basic make up of honey is fructose and glucose, two types of simple sugars. You cannot remove the fructose because then it wouldn’t technically be honey anymore.”

  5. Kate Rensky
    August 8, 2018 at 7:10 am

    and I’ve recently read that sugar has been proven to feed cancer tumors so best everyone avoid it if at all possible. Plus avoiding it makes you lose weight.

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