Yesterday we listed the two ends of the sweet spectrum, giving Yes and No lists to help you make good choices and avoid bad ones.
But what about the “in-betweens,” of which there are many? How do we sort out the OK’s from the “iffys”? This can be confusing, especially with regard to sugar made from sugar cane, which is a natural plant containing the perfect balance of nutrients (and fiber) that is always found in nature.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the wide variety of sugar products available now: Organic sugar, raw sugar, Muscovado, Turbinado, Demerara, Piloncillo, Sucanat – and more! In addition, there are “other” sweeteners such as coconut sugar and maple syrup.
Just as with the Yes and No lists, it basically comes down to the production of these items. We’re looking for the least possible amount of interference with the composition and nutritional value of the original plant. This means very simple processing with few steps and no chemicals used. Not surprisingly, the best products by this standard come from small farmers, as opposed to big commercial enterprises who will sacrifice much for the big bucks.
Before I list these in preferable order, let me re-emphasize the caveat from last week. Using a nutritionally superior product is an excellent start down the road of improving one’s health. But because virtually all of us have been addicted to sugar-sweetened items from birth (or before) it is very important that we back off from that situation, and strive for the goal of “requiring” much less sweetness in our diet. That factor alone will make a big health difference. So – please use these products in strict moderation. Set your own goals and work towards them consistently.
OK to use moderately – these items appear to be the least processed:
– Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane Sugar – very similar to Piloncillo in Mexico, Panela in Colombia, and Raspadura in Brazil
– organic coconut sugar
In this OK category I also put organic maple syrup, which is made simply by the boiling down of tree sap and yet retains some nutritional value and is usually chemical-free. The price alone will ensure that you use it moderately!
Iffy – this group has been processed with more steps, separating the molasses from the sugar crystals – then re-combining them in unnatural proportions – and including a clarifying process which is often done with chemicals:
Sucanat – while the clarifying process might be omitted, there is still the separation of crystals and molasses
Muscovado, Turbinado, Demerara, “Organic Raw Sugar” (which is not raw) are all similar and fit into the Iffy group
If you have any questions or comments on this subject, please feel free to share them with us at this email address.
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