I am often asked questions about sugar. Which are the best? What is corn syrup? Is brown sugar better than white? In an attempt to answer these questions, I have come to the realization that knowledge is a more potent and long lasting answer to these questions. That way people can make informed decisions and choices as to what will work for them. As my clients' know, I am not a supporter of sugar in its various forms, especially not for sensitive individuals. Sugar has no food value, is quickly absorbed, can increase severe reactions, and contributes to addictions. It depletes the body of needed nutrients and shuts down the immune system. The process by which most of these sugars are produced is heat, which destroys any possible nutritional benefits i.e. vitamins and minerals. Having said that, let's look at the various sources of sugar.

  • MOLASSES is made when the juice is squeezed from sugar cane and then boiled until the sugar crystallizes. The liquid that doesn't crystallize is molasses. 
  • RAW SUGAR is taking the process above the liquid that does crystallize, coated with molasses, and full of bacteria, fungi etc. is raw sugar.
  • WHITE TABLE SUGAR is refined sugar and is created when the molasses is taken off the raw sugar.
  • TURBINADO SUGAR is produced when raw sugar which is quite contaminated, is washed and dirt and bacteria are removed.
  • BROWN SUGAR is when molasses is processed and more crystals form which are brown or yellow in colour. Brown Sugar can be more refined than white sugar depending on when the crystals are gathered in processing. 
  • BLACK STRAP MOLASSES is the syrup that remains after molasses has been processed a number of times and all the possible sugar has been extracted.
  • SUCROSE is refined from sugar cane and sugar beets. 
  • HONEY is sugar made by bees from nectar. It contains glucose, fructose, bee pollen, Dextrin and gums. 
  • MAPLE SYRUP is processed from maple tree sap and primarily contains sucrose. 
  • CORN SWEETENERS are types of sugars processed from cornstarch and are an allergen for anyone with corn sensitivities. Some of these include Dextrose, Maltose, Corn syrup, Corn sugar, and Glucose. 
  • SORGHUM is a grain that can be processed to produce sugar crystals. 
  • MALT is a sprouted grain sugar primarily from barley. 
  • MALTO DEXTRINS sugars are degraded carbohydrates. 
  • GRAIN SYRUPS are similar to Malt, they can come from wheat, rye, or rice.
  • STEVIA is a root sugar made from the stevia plant. 
  • SORBITOL, MANNITOL, XYLITOL are all sugar alcohols that are converted to glucose in the body. They all have the potential to be quite allergenic. Sorbitol comes from fruit, seaweed, corn and algae. Mannitol comes from plants and plant extracts including corn. Xylitol comes from wood sugar, corn cobs, peanut shells, wheat straw, coconut shells. 
  • FRUCTOSE is the natural sugar found in fruit and vegetables, commercial fructose is usually processed from can or beet sugar. 
  • ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS are sugars that have been synthesized in a lab. They are non caloric but also non nutritive. There are many adverse side effects linked to artificial sweeteners including increased appetite, seizures, depression, tremors, headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Look out for names such as Poly Dextrose, Aspartame, Nutra Sweet, and Saccharin.  My personal preference is for the grain syrups, Stevia, and date paste, some of which you can prepare at home if you like.  Hopefully, this information will help you in making the best decisions around your wellness. 

Written for the Arbutus Clinic newsletter by Sarina Kier.