* Glucose (aka “dextrose” or “grape sugar”), galactose (“milk sugar”), and fructose (“fruit sugar”) are all “monosaccharides” (i.e. single sugar molecules), known as “simple sugars.” The primary difference between them is how your body metabolizes them.
* Glucose is the form of energy you were designed to run on. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy.
* High amounts of fructose are very damaging to the body, since if fructose isn’t burned immediately for energy, it travels directly to the liver, where it is converted to triglycerides (fats). Excess triglycerides increase insulin resistance (and insulin production), thus contributing to diabetes in a “back door” fashion.
* The simple sugars can combine to form more complex sugars, like sucrose (“table sugar”) which is a “disaccharide” comprised of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
* “Refined” white sugar (pure sucrose) is washed with a syrup solution, then with hot water, clarified (usually chemically) to remove impurities, decolorized, concentrated, evaporated, re-boiled until crystals form, centrifuged again to separate, then dried. By this point, any remnants of “natural goodness” and “nutritional value” have completely dissappeared! Quite frankly, white sugar should be considered to be an “industrial product” rather than a “food.”
* “Brown sugar” is just white sugar mixed with molasses.
* “Raw” sugar is not really raw – it has been cooked, and most of the minerals and vitamins are gone. But it’s probably a little better than refined white sugar because it has a little of the molasses remaining.
* Aspartame is a highly addictive, neurotoxic, rat poison that causes brain lesions and cancer … need I say more?
* Splenda (sucralose) is *NOT* a sugar, despite its deceptive marketing slogan, “made from sugar.” It’s a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame, though not quite as harmful.
* Honey is approximately 50% fructose, but in natural (raw) form contains many health benefits.
* Stevia is an extremely sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form).
* Agave nectar is made from the agave plant, which is a cactus. Sound natural, right? Like maple syrup from a tree, or honey from a beehive. Only it isn’t. Agave is HIGHLY processed, and the end product does not even remotely resemble the original agave plant. And agave is approximately 80% fructose (much higher than honey and maple syrup).
* High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. I talked about the deleterious effects of HFCS yesterday…
* Rapadura is the pure juice extracted from the sugar cane (using a press), which is then evaporated over low heats, whilst being stirred with paddles, then seive ground to produce a grainy sugar. It has not been cooked at high heats, and spun to change it into crystals, and the molasses has not been separated from the sugar. “Sucanat” is the USA trade name for Rapadura.
* Coconut sugar is made from the sweet watery sap that drips from the cut flower buds of fresh coconuts. It has a low glycemic index (GI) and is rich in amino acids. It is typically less than 10% fructose, with sucrose being the primary component.
* Xylitol is a sweetener known as a “sugar alcohol” (or polyol). Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols – they are carbohydrates (with structures that happen to resemble sugar and alcohol). Xylitol is extracted from birch cellulose. Unlike sugar, Xylitol is slowly absorbed, does not cause a rapid blood sugar increase, and does not require an immediate insulin response from the body to be metabolized. And because Xylitol is anti-bacterial, many studies have shown that it actually helps prevent dental cavities, ear infections, and some evidence suggests that it helps prevent gum disease.