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- Josh Billings, American humorist author

Sugary facts

By Sharda ten Hove on 30 October 2012

Most of us have heard that white sugar is not beneficial for your body, some even call white sugar a poison. In our world today it is difficult avoiding sugar since it is found in almost any processed foods and baked goods. Below we have outlined a few facts about white sugar and some options on what substitutes to choose from.

What is white sugar exactly?

White sugar is a natural product extracted from either the sugar cane ( a grass originally from Southeast Asia) or from the sugar beet (a plant).
It’s the process after the harvesting which makes the raw cane sugar into the white refined sugar.
The unrefined raw sugar contains many minerals and nutrients (like Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium) while refined white sugar is empty of any nutrients and minerals.
So what is left in the white sugar is only the carbohydrates without any other benefits.
What is does contain are chemicals added during the process of refining the sugar, these harmful ingredients can include: Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide, and Formic Acid. These chemicals interfere with the natural processes occurring in the body and can affect your immune system because the body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrates without the proteins, vitamins and minerals that have been taken out during the refining.
White sugar increases blood sugar levels which can degenerate blood vessels leading to heart disease, it increases risk of many cancers, increases fertility related issues and causes diabetes.

So why is this natural product with beneficial substances being processed into something that can actually damage our immune system leading to all sorts of diseases.

The most logical reason is to take out the strong taste of beet from the sugar beet,however in this process the nutrients from the beet are also removed.
Cane sugar does not strictly need refining but the reason why this is done is to remove the liquid layer that builds up around the sugar crystals. In this process many chemical additives are used to get refined white sugar. We can conclude that this is done to get more crystalized sugar (mass production).
We recommend you to start consuming less sugar which is actually much better for all of us and use alternatives. In this way you not only nourish yourself well but you also support a more sustainable industry.

What sugars are good or better for you?
Any sort of sugar is best taken in moderation as it causes a spike in your blood glucose levels which can lead to hormonal imbalances and other issues. However when consuming these sugars here below you are consuming healthy sugars containing minerals and nutrients which are so important for your body and mind.

Stevia: made from the leaves of the wild stevia, a plant that grows in Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Japan and China. The leaves of this plant have zero glycemic index, zero calories and zero carbs. It is 25-30 times sweeter than sugar, and since it’s full of minerals and nutrients also healthy when taken in moderation.

Coconut Sugar: made from the juice of the coconut, resembles cane sugar, but is very low on the glycemic index. Coconut sugar is very healthy and contains sulfur, healthy micronutrients, potassium and magnesium.

Honey: the original natural sweetener, made by bees from flower nectars. Honey comes in many types and colors. Just be sure only to use raw honey in hot liquids as the un raw honey has undergone a heating procedure and when heated again will release toxins. You can use regular honey in lukewarm water or tea.

Agave Nectar: available as a fluid. Extracted from the agave plant,  is low on the glycemic index and sweeter than refined sugar. You only need a little bit to get a really sweet taste.

Fructose: made from fruit sugars and twice as sweet as refined sugar. Use half the amount that you would normally put in cookies, cakes, and drinks.

Maple Syrup: Made from the sap of sugar maple trees, which is boiled down to drive off the water and thicken the syrup. Maple syrup like molasses, contains a good amount of calcium.

Molasses: Extracted from crushed and squeezed cane, which results in a thin, yellowish juice. The cane juice is boiled down and reduced to unsulphured dark molasses. Dark molasses, especially blackstrap is loaded with calcium, iron, and potassium.

Rice Syrup: is made from brown rice starch that has been converted into maltose. Milder than most honey and can be used in cooking, baking and to sweeten drinks.

Xylitol: a natural sweetener that occurs in fruits, berries, and some vegetables, but is made primarily from the bark of the birch tree . Xylitol is safe for use by diabetics. Health food stores sell xylitol in crystalline form.

You can buy alternatives for white sugar in health stores.

Luckily these day’s more and more conscious minded companies in the food and beverage industry are starting to offer alternatives to white sugar. But it’s still a long way before this will be integrated on a larger scale. For now we recommend you to read what you eat and make your own healthy choices.


About the author

Sharda ten Hove

Founder, Ethical Vegan, Yogi, Social Activist

Sharda was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Descended from an Indian mother and Dutch father, she received a multi-cultural upbringing during which she gained a broad perspective on life.…  Read full bio