All foods in nature exist as a “complex,” meaning they come packaged together with many pieces, like vitamins and minerals. Your body uses these vitamins and minerals along with enzymes to digest the sugar. So, when you eat a natural sweetener, the need for enzymes and nutrients is filled by what’s in the sweetener, so your own stores stay intact. Your digestion of sugars is supported by what’s in these unprocessed sweet treats!
But when we refine these foods, the way we do with many sweeteners, we strip away all of the beneficial nutrients until we’re left with just the sugar. Without those vitamins and minerals, you are left depleted when you eat it since your body is forced to it’s own stores to aid digestion.
The refining process “simplifies” the sugar, causing it to break down more quickly in your system causing a more dramatic impact on your blood sugar levels, and thus a bigger insulin spike. Insulin spikes like this can cause systemic inflammation, something related to many diseases—if you suffer from any disease, you need to start taking a look at the sugar in your diet.
Brain fog, depression, heart disease… all related to inflammation.
Cane sugar, even raw turbinado sugar—these types of sugars are refined or just come from a source that is much lower in nutrients. Any type of sweetener is going to have an impact on your insulin levels and your blood sugar levels, but those that are refined or have lower nutrients can have a more significant impact.
Are coconut sugar and honey better for diabetics?
At the end of the day these sweeteners have an impact on your blood sugar levels. BUT they impact you differently then refined sugar.
Best choices for natural sweeteners:
- Maple syrup
- Date sugar
- Palm sugar
All are more complex and have the nutrients intact that come with natural sweeteners!
Honey is lower on the glycemic index than refined sugar. It contains fiber, healthy fats, and oligosaccharides, which are a kind of sugar that takes longer for your body to break down. This all means that honey raises your blood sugar more slowly. On top of that, honey also contains zinc, iron, and selenium!
Maple syrup contains antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals that your body needs.
Date sugar has a lot of fiber because it’s the whole date that’s been ground into a powder.
Coconut sugar has yummy caramel flavor and it contains inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
All sweeteners should be eaten in moderation, but eating natural sweeteners in moderation allows you to indulge and enjoy some treats without the negative impacts and systemic inflammation brought on by refined sugar.