A Comparison of Sweeteners and their Impact on Blood Glucose Levels and Health

A Comparison of Sweeteners and their Impact on Blood Glucose Levels and Health

All sugar is not created equal. It's important to understand how the various sweeteners are going to impact your blood sugar and overall health as you consider your choices.

Not all sweeteners are the same, so taking some time to learn the vital information you need to know can help you make more informed decisions. Perhaps after you read this, you'll consider using honey, stevia or agave over table sugar.

Let's give you a quick comparison of the main sweeteners that you'll come into.

Table Sugar

Let's start with the basic one that everyone knows - pure sugar. Table sugar is not an ideal option in any way. While it is 'natural' so some people may still view it as superior compared to artificial sweeteners as far as health is concerned, what you must realize is that this 'natural' sugar has a Glycemic Index (GI) value of 64, so while it may not be as high as say a baked potato is, that sugar comes with zero nutrients as well.

Add the fact that the more sugar you eat, the more impact on your blood glucose levels there will be, so if you're using a high dosage amount in baked goods, sauces, condiments, beverages, or so on, you are in for some problems with blood glucose control.

If you use one teaspoon with your morning coffee and that's it, you may not suffer too much of a consequence, but much more than that and you'll be in for problems.

Remember that regular sugar also contains 46 calories per tablespoon, so it adds up quickly.

Molasses

Next up you have molasses. This sweetener is often overlooked and is one that is slightly better than regular table sugar. It has a GI value of 55 and also contains some nutrients as well.

It'll provide you with thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and provides a high dosage of major minerals as well.

You'll take in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, as well as selenium.

So from a health standpoint, small doses of molasses aren't all that bad as long as you pair it with protein or high fiber foods in the same meal to help blunt blood glucose response.

Honey

Another more nutritionally dense natural sweetener is honey. It has a GI value of just 30, so is much lower than other sweeteners. This is part due to the fact that honey is half fructose, half glucose, so because of this, it won't spike blood glucose levels as much as pure glucose would. Fructose is handled by the liver, not moved into the blood stream, so only half the honey will impact your glucose standing.

Honey will provide a small dose of some nutrients including iron, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin B6.

It's not ideal, but it does offer more nutrition than sugar.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is another sweetener some people turn to. This sweetener ranks much lower on the GI scale at 54 compared to glucose, which ranks in at 96. It's still not ideal by any means for a diabetic, but compared to other sweeteners, it's not as high and it adds some minerals and distinct flavour characteristics.

Maple syrup is especially high in manganese and will also supply you with some zinc, copper, potassium, iron, as well as calcium. It doesn't contain many vitamins however, so minerals are the main nutrient you'll get from this sweetener.

Agave

Agave is next up on the list of sweeteners to consider. This one is becoming more and more popular in today's world as more people are starting to consider it the most natural form of sweetener to be using.

It has an estimated GI value of just 15, which is what makes it so appealing for many people. It is made from the agave plant and tastes quite similar to honey, so is widely used in teas, baking, oatmeal, and any other way that you'd utilize honey.

It's also been demonstrated that agave may help to lower the level of inflammation in the body as well, while boosting the immune system and decreasing the risk of cancer.

So from an all-around health perspective, it definitely is one to consider.

Stevia

Which now brings us to stevia. This is another form of natural sweetener than many people turn to as it is much lower in calories and more natural than artificial sweeteners. It has a GI of less than 1, so has very little influence on blood glucose levels at all and with no calories, can be used without the risk of weight gain.

It's available as a 'dietary supplement' (as opposed to a sweetener) and has been proven safe numerous times. It also has been used to treat those with stomach aches, digestive problems, as well as those suffering from dental issues, so there are some added benefits to note about this herb as well.

It doesn't contain any vitamins or minerals however, so you won't get any assistance with those like you do the above sweeteners.

So there you have a look at the more natural sweeteners that you can choose to consume in your diet plan. Remember that with all of these with the exception of stevia, calories will be consumed so you must integrate this into your daily total to avoid the weight gain that would occur with increased calorie consumption.

Some people prefer going the natural sweetener route, choosing small doses of these over artificial sweeteners, while others prefer artificial sweeteners that won't contain calories. In the end, the choice is up to you but the superior approach would be teaching your taste buds to simply enjoy foods in their natural state so that you don't need to use any sweeteners at all.