Sugar substitutes are marketed as a way to reduce calories and decrease intake of added sugars. While they seem to be safe, the products in which sugar substitutes are found may contain large amounts of refined carbohydrate and are frequently not the healthiest choices, according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
-Look for labels. “Diet,” “sugar-free,” “low-calorie,” or “reduced-calorie” labels typically indicate the presence of sugar substitutes. CHOOSE water. When trying to decrease added sugar intake, water, unsweetened coffee, tea, and seltzer are the best choices. For those who find it hard to give up sugar-sweetened beverages, a switch to beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes will help cut health-damaging added sugars while you work to wean yourself off of sweet drinks.
-Eat fruit. The natural sugars in fruits are not associated with harmful health effects, and the nutrients in these naturally-sweet choices are definitely health-promoting.
-Limit sugar alcohols. In some people, high intake can cause cramping, gas, and diarrhea. The amount that can be tolerated without ill effects varies from person to person. “Sugar Alcohol” should be listed under “Total Carbohydrate” on Nutrition Facts labels.
I must confess that given the alternative, I will choose the raw sugar over white. Nice to learn how they compare according to this senior scientist at Tufts.
A. “Sugar is sugar,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, senior scientist at the HNRCA and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “All sugar is made by extracting juice from sugar beet or sugar cane plants, then cleaning, crystallizing, and removing molasses. The final product may differ in crystal size or molasses content, but, chemically and nutritionally, all of these sugars are the same. When it comes to digestion and metabolism, your body cannot tell the difference between raw sugar, white sugar, and any other kind of sugar.”
“Where raw and white sugar differ is in processing and flavor. Producing white sugar takes more steps (and several chemicals like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and calcium hydroxide) to absorb impurities and prevent browning. Raw sugars like cane, turbinado, and demerara are less processed, and the molasses gives them a brown color and a richer taste. Muscovado sugar (which is dark, sticky, and good for barbecue sauce and marinades) is a minimally-processed, unrefined cane sugar.”
“While raw sugar may be a bit more environmentally friendly, and some people prefer the taste, it is associated with the same negative health effects as any other sweetener.”