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Sugar and Other Sweeteners



Sugar and its harmful effects on your health

It's a proven fact that refined sugar, in its many forms, increases insulin levels which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging, and other health problems.



The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and its position on sugar


The ADA says it's okay for people with diabetes to eat sugar. DON'T BELIEVE THEM!


Their recipe books include recipes that call for white sugar and white flour. DON'T BUY THEM! These are the two main foods that most other experts in nutrition say to avoid.


Dr. Gott wrote a book called "No Flour, No Sugar Diet" that I recommend. Many others write about the harmful effects of sugar on anyone's health, and certainly it's worse for people with diabetes. I also recommend the Sugar Busters series of books.


It's said by many that the ADA is partially funded by sugar corporations and others whose goal is to make profits, not to help people be healthier. So, of course, they are not going to tell us not to eat these foods because part of their funding would be cut off. As one popular author says, "It's all about the money."



Refined white sugar

From Here are a few excerpts from this site.

Sugar is without question one of the most dangerous substances on the food market today. What we are talking about here is sucrose, the white crystalline sugar refined from cane or beet juice by stripping away all its vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, water, and other synergists.

White sugar . . . is not fit for human consumption.

● Sugar suppresses the immune system by causing the pancreas to secrete abnormally large quantities of insulin, which is required to break it down.

● Insulin remains in circulation in the bloodstream long after sugar has been metabolized, and one of its main side effects is to suppress the release of growth hormone in the pituitary gland.

● Sugar is the chief culprit in many diseases and degenerative conditions.

● It can easily cause diabetes and is a major factor in candidiasis, both of which are epidemic in the industrialized Western world.

● Sugar also depletes the body of potassium and magnesium, which are required for proper cardiac function, and is therefore a major factor in heart disease.

● The nutritional leaching caused by sugar can give rise to intense food cravings and eating binges, as the body seeks to replenish the nutrients “stolen” from it by sugar.

Other sugars such as fructose (in fruit and honey), lactose (in milk), and maltose (in grains) are natural substances with nutritional value.


If you or your children have a sweet tooth, you can easily satisfy it by concocting treats with pure raw honey, pure maple syrup, unsulfured blackstrap molasses, and barley malt, which are not only sweet but also nutritious and therapeutically beneficial.



Ways That Sugar Affects Your Health

This Web site details the harmful effects of sugar on the human body.


Refined Sugar—The Sweetest Poison of All

Why sugar is toxic to the body.


The Perils of Sugar

From the Atkins Web site.

Connie Bennett's Web site about sugar addiction with a link to her KickSugar support group forum.

Sugar Lovers Beware! Covers sugar, sugar substitutes, and natural sweeteners.


See Sugar's Role in the Aging Process to learn how sugar ages the human body.


From “One of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease.”

General information about sugar and various other sweeteners.



Sugar—in the form of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)


Considerable recent research shows that fructose—the type which is not made from fruit but rather from corn—is the most dangerous of all sugars. Keep in mind that this is not talking about the naturally-occurring fructose in fruit, which we should be consuming by eating 3 to 4 servings of fruit daily.


See this report by Connie Bennett. An excerpt: “Yet another study—the latest of several—suggests that corn-based fructose could be associated with increased fat. What's more, the findings indicate that drinking too many soft drinks could be one reason why Americans are gaining weight . . . Consider yourself warned: For the sake of your health, it's wise to stop consuming foods and drinks laden with corn-based fructose.


From Recent studies have shown what informed nutritionists have known for years—that high-fructose corn syrup promotes diabetes and obesity.


Also see Article “Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and type II diabetes.” Sugar and refined carbohydrates are undeniably linked to diabetes. Researchers around the world have come to the conclusion that the consumption of refined sugar is detrimental to the health of people without diabetes and disastrous for those with it. Furthermore, excess sugar in the blood can cause the onset of type 2 diabetes.


An article about how high fructose corn syrup is produced and its effects on the human body: The Murky World of High Fructose Corn Syrup.


A short article on High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity by Dr. Gabe Murkin, M. D.


Corn—it's everywhere! Read about corn, the corn industry, the corn lobby, and the effects of excessive corn consumption at


An AARP Bulletin article, What's Worse Than Sugar?”

Excerpt: “The perils of sugar have been understood for years, but now there's evidence of a new and even more dangerous consequence of our craving for sweets. Dietary experts and scientists are singling out one in particular—high-fructose corn syrup—as a reason for the startling rise in obesity in America and a related increase in diabetes cases.”


From High fructose corn syrup is not the same thing at all as the natural, healthy fructose in honey and fruit. It's a highly refined, artificial product created through an intricate process that transforms cornstarch into a thick, clear liquid. White sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not the same—nutritional science studies say there is a big difference between the two (even though corn growers, of course, say they are the same).

Article, “Fructose is No Answer For a Sweetener” by Nancy Appleton, PhD. She explains how and why it's used and lists 16 ways that it's harmful to the body.


Six Reasons Why Corn is Making You Fat

In the form of high-fructose corn syrup, and other forms as well, corn is creeping its way into Americans’ diets in increasing amounts and adding inches to our waistlines. Find out why corn, which has become a dietary staple to Americans, is likely contributing to the obesity epidemic we are now facing.


A Killer on the CobArticle about high fructose corn syrup


Strong Evidence Links Soft Drink Consumption To Obesity, Diabetes

The case against swigging soda just got stronger. A large systematic review reveals clear associations between consumption of nondiet soft drinks and increased calorie intake and body weight.


High fructose corn syrup is often cited by some nutritionists as one of the leading causes of obesity and is linked to diabetes. The average American consumed 62.6 pounds of high fructose corn syrup in 2001, most of which came from soft drinks.  Since HFCS is used as a substitute for other sugars (particularly sucrose) in processed foods, it is not clear whether it is the chemical differences between sugars or a general increase in consumption of sugars of all types that might be linked with obesity. Some nutritionists and natural food advocates believe that consumption of high fructose corn syrup should be avoided due to its possible links with obesity and diabetes. Also cited as reasons to avoid HFCS are that it is highly refined, that it might be produced from genetically modified corn, that various molds found on corn might leave harmful byproducts in the final product, or that corn products in general should be avoided. Other nutritionists say that HFCS is no more or less harmful than other forms of sugar and that all sugars should be consumed sparingly. It may be the case that confusion has arisen between the effects of consuming pure fructose as compared to pure glucose, versus the effects of consuming mixtures of the two sugars from different sources.



Sugar substitutes—artificial and natural


See Controversies About Foods for more information and for links to other sites about the pros and cons of these sweeteners and their safety.


● Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal)

● Acesulfame K (Sunette, Sweet One, Sweet 'n Safe)

● Fructose (processed)*

Saccharin (Sweet N' Low, Sprinkle Sweet, Sugar Twin, Sweet Ten)

Stevia (a natural herbal sugar substitute)

Sucralose (Splenda) partly natural, partly artificial

● Whey Low (claims to be a natural sweetener, consists of sucrose, fructose, and lactose) and comes in a few varieties


*Processed fructose (from corn) is used as an additive to sweeten all sorts of packaged foods and is about 20 times sweeter than table sugar. This is different from the healthy fructose in its natural state in fresh fruits.




Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Because the substitutes are many times sweeter than sugar, it takes a smaller amount of them to create the same sweetness as sugar. For this reason, products made with artificial sweeteners have a much lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Also, they don't affect blood sugar levels. Artificial sweeteners are considered "free foods" in most diets. They don't count as a carbohydrate, a fat, or any other exchange.


Keep in mind that if you have diabetes, some foods containing artificial sweeteners, such as sugar-free yogurt, can still affect your blood sugar because of other carbohydrates or proteins in these foods. In addition, some sugar-free, low-calorie candies may contain sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol or mannitol. These are called reduced-calorie sweeteners because they're made with natural foodstuffs and aren't considered artificial. Like artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols have little effect on blood sugar.



Sugar Alcohols


These are not technically considered artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols occur naturally in foods and come from plants as fruits and vegetables, but are commercially produced from other carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose, and starch.


Some of the sugar alcohols are Isomalt, Lactitol, Malitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Erythritol, and Xylitol, often found in sugar-free bars, chewing gum, breath mints, etc. If eaten in excess, most of these (all except erythritol) can cause digestive upsets in the form of bloating, gas, and diarrhea, so use in moderation.


One popular diet says to limit foods that contain these to 75 calories per day. However, everyone has their own tolerance level, so it's best to experiment until you find out how much you can tolerate, then don't exceed that amount. Erythritol is said to be the only sugar alcohol that does not cause these digestive symptoms.


Click here: for an article by Jan Hanson about sugar alcohols. One of her points is that using these "trick" sugars can keep sugar cravings alive. It's your decision whether the benefits of these sweet substitutes are worth their drawbacks.






From Dr. Mercola: “Xylitol is a high-grade (and high-cost) sweetener that comes from trees. It has a very low glycemic index, and it doesn't spike blood sugar levels. Xylitol is a beneficial sweetener. It's antibacterial and actually helps prevent dental cavities. This effect has been shown in several different studies. In fact, I've recommended a brand of chewing gum, made with xylitol, that actually prevents cavities (Spry gum). Xylitol is even used in products such as nasal wash to prevent nasal or throat infections, and it is very effective in that application. As a sweetener, xylitol tastes delicious.”


Continuing from Dr. Mercola, regarding the digestive upsets of sugar alcohols, “only the low-grade xylitol produces these effects. Low grade xylitol is typically contaminated with other sugar alcohols, most notably sorbitol. Sorbitol is the culprit of this gastrointestinal distress.”






Has the highest digestive tolerance of all the sugar alcohols (also called polyols). Erythritol does not cause undesired gastrointestinal effects under its intended conditions of use.



“Erythritol is a relatively new addition to the list of sugar alcohols used in foods and other consumer products . . . Erythritol is present in such fruits as pears, melons, mushrooms, and grapes, as well as such fermented foods as wine, soy sauce, and cheese.”




Natural sugar substitutes



Stevia—a safe and healthy natural sugar substitute?



Stevia is is a herb approved by the FDA only as a food supplement, not a sweetener, but it is widely used for sweetening.


Update December 19, 2008, from Natural News: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued letters of nonobjection for the use of a natural, zero-calorie sweetener (Stevia) it once sought to wipe out from the U.S. marketplace.


From Extracts from the leaf of the Stevia plant have been found to be high in antioxidants that prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer, according to a new Indian study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. "These results indicate that Stevia rebaudiana may be useful as a potential source of natural antioxidants," said lead author Srijani Ghanta, of the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata.

Article titled “Stevia natural sweetener competes with Aspartame”

A quote from this article: “Don't forget, obesity in America has increased by 30 percent in the past decade, the same period in which aspartame has been introduced. It now accounts for 70 percent of our artificial sweetener use and a quarter of total sweetener use.” (Note: There are also other things to blame for obesity, one of them being as high fructose corn syrup.)

What Stevia is, it's uses, and why it was banned in a few countries and by the FDA, and how an aspartame manufacturer was involved in this ban. In 1995, the FDA revised its stance to permit stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, although not as a food additive. Currently, it is legal to import, grow, sell, and consume stevia products in the US if it is contained within or labeled for use as a dietary supplement.

An article, "Stevia: Not Ready For Prime Time" with links to other sites with stevia information.

Article, "Stevia Leaf — Too Good to be Legal?" by Rob McCaleb, president of the Herb Research Foundation.


Dr. Mercola says: “Stevia, of course, is an all-natural herbal sweetener that has virtually no calories and no glycemic effect, so it doesn't spike blood sugar levels. It's my top choice for natural sweeteners, and it's one that I use every day.”

Stevia, Toxic or Tasty? Article by Jen L. Jones, "The Real Issue in the Stevia Battles."




Natural whole-food sweeteners


Many people prefer natural sweeteners over refined sugars and sugar substitutes. Natural sugars such as fructose (in fruit and honey), lactose (in milk), and maltose (in grains) have nutritional value. Natural sweeteners are considered to produce less of a shock to the body's blood sugar level. These unrefined or less refined sweeteners are vastly superior to refined sugars (such as white sugar, brown sugar, confectioners sugar, corn syrup, processed corn fructose, turbinado sugar, etc.) because they contain nutrients, including necessary minerals, that help with sugar metabolism. Healthier sweet treats can be made with whole food sugars. Natural sweeteners are usually organic and no chemicals are used in any extraction processes.


A word of caution: If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, you need to monitor your body's response to these and other natural sweeteners. Some can tolerate them in small amounts, some cannot. In any case, even in healthy people, they should be used in moderation (as with any food).



Raw Honey



Raw, unprocessed honey is actually sweeter than sugar, contains small amounts of B vitamins, enzymes, and other ingredients. It's believed by many to have medicinal properties and has long been rumored to have healing powers. Raw honey is antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal, and antibacterial—and it never spoils!


Commercial (processed, heated) honey is not recommended by most nutritionists and natural foods experts.


From Honey is a mixture of acid secretions from the glands of honeybees and nectar from flowers. Although honey is a natural sweetener, it is considered a refined sugar as the sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose while in the bee's stomach. It is sweeter and higher in calories than refined white sugar. Honey contains some B vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. However, the enzymes are generally destroyed by high heat causing the honey to lose nutritional properties when used in baking. (This is the main reason why only raw honey is recommended.)


For more information about honey, click here:

The World's Healthiest Foods Web page about honey



Pure maple syrup



Pure maple syrup was once a staple of the American kitchen until convenience caused us to replace this wholesome sweetener with refined sugars void of any nutrition. Nutrients are absorbed best in the form of foods because they are diluted and dispersed among other ingredients that may better facilitate their absorption. This makes the vitamins and minerals more easily assimilated in the body. Pure maple syrup is composed of balanced sugars, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids which makes it unique from other sweeteners. For the full story, click here:


From “Maple Syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees. Thirtyfive to 50 gallons of sap are boiled to produce one gallon of maple syrup. Grade A maple syrup has a lighter color and flavor than Grade B, which is darker with a stronger flavor. It is 65 percent (natural) sucrose. It is an excellent sweetener in apple and pumpkin pie. Maple syrup also works well in carrot and spice cakes, muffins, and quick breads.”



Unsulphured blackstrap molasses



From “Sweet molasses or light molasses is the liquid left after the first extraction of sugar crystals. Blackstrap molasses is the liquid left after the last extraction of sugar crystals, and has a stronger, bittersweet flavor and is richer in potassium, calcium, iron, and B vitamins than sweet molasses. Both sweet molasses and blackstrap molasses are 70 percent sucrose. Sweet molasses is an excellent substitute for brown sugar. It adds a very nice flavor to baked beans, breads, muffins, gingerbread, and cookies.” Use only organic, unsulphured, blackstrap molasses.


From unsulphured blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of iron, calcium, copper and manganese, as well as potassium, and magnesium. Unsulphured means that it does it not contain sulpher which is used as a processing chemical.”


From molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup, which are stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates, or artificial sweeteners like saccharine or aspartame, which not only provide no useful nutrients but have been shown to cause health problems in sensitive individuals, blackstrap molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that promote your health.”



Agave Nectar






“Agave syrup (nectar) is an awesome food product. You will love this sweetener, guaranteed . . . It comes from a cactus plant in the desert. I believe that it tastes better than honey and can used on pancakes, cookies, and to sweeten baked goods.”








Other natural sweeteners:



Barley Malt Syrup
Birch Syrup
Brown Rice Syrup
Dates and Date Sugar
Evaporated Cane Juice
Vegetable Glycerin



See the following Web pages for more information and descriptions of these and other natural sweeteners.



Remember—even natural, healthy sweeteners can contribute to weight gain. Use in moderation.



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