Different Types of Sugar
By: Dr. Keith Kantor
- Agave nectar- Agave nectar(more accurately called agave syrup) is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of agave, including Agave tequilana (blue agave) and Agave Agave syrup is sweeter than honey and tends to be less viscous. Most agave syrup comes from Mexico and South Africa. Agave nectar is a real sugar, as opposed to an artificial or non-nutritive sweetener. It has properties similar to many sugars with one important exception: its glycemic index is significantly lower. This makes it a healthier alternative to many processed AND natural sweeteners, including: white granulated sugar.
- Beet sugar- unlike sugarcane, sugar beets grow underground and are harvested and processed differently. After being removed from the ground, they are washed, sliced and then put into a diffuser. In the diffuser, water helps extract raw sugar juice; then the slices are squeezed to remove any remaining juice. Calcium hydroxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide are added to create crystals and lower the pH of the sugar juice. Then much of the chemicals are filtered out. The juice is boiled to help separate molasses, water and sugar crystals, then the crystals are dried and ready for use. Beet sugar is slightly less acidic then regular sugar, making it a slightly better alternative.
- Cane sugar- Sugarcane are large stalks that grow above ground in warm and tropical climates. The cane is harvested by burning the leaves from the stalks, then cutting the stalks down. The cane is then taken to a refinery, chopped and crushed to separate the juice from the pulp. The juice is filtered and then water is removed in an evaporator, leaving a thickened cane syrup. The syrup is heated and crystals start to form. Crystals, which will become white table sugar — are separated from the remaining liquid — which will become molasses. Molasses is added back into the refined sugar to produce brown sugar. But to make white sugar, the crystals are heated one last time and then bleached with a chemical agent to make them white. Naturalcane sugar is made from sugar cane, while conventional white granulated sugar may be made from either cane or sugar Since both plants produce molecules of sucrose that are identical, this is not a significant distinction.
- Coconut sugar comes from the coconut tree that offers a sap that can be processed to create a syrup or honey-like substance, which is then dried to form coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener that may be more expensive than regular granulated sugar, but it’s worth it since it yields some tremendous benefits that make it a much better choice than many other sweetener options. For instance, coconut sugar is better for diabetics and the gut than your normal, everyday sugar, and it holds trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Date sugar is made fromdried dates and adds a rich sweetness to recipes, although it will not dissolve when added to drinks. It also does not melt like granulated sugar which can limit its use. It is sometimes promoted as a healthier alternative to brown sugar, although it can be quite expensive. Date sugar is loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium; where white sugar does not.
- HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)- High fructose corn syrup(HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn found in thousands of foods and beverages on grocery store shelves throughout the United States. HFCS is composed of either 42 percent or 55 percent fructose, with the remaining sugars being primarily glucose and higher sugars. This has a high glycemic index, some research has shown it to be extremely addictive compared to any other sources of sugar.
- Honey is a sweet, sticky, yellowish-brown fluid made by bees and other insects from nectar collected from flowers. This is a natural source of sugar that can also boost the immune system and improve seasonal allergy symptoms.
- Maple syrup is syrup produced from the sap of certain maples, especially the sugar maple. It is a natural unprocessed form of sugar that taste extremely sweet. It is better then sugar because it is not processed and a small amount can go a long way in terms of flavoring foods instead of using more regular sugar.
- Molasses is a thick, dark brown syrup obtained from raw sugar during the refining process, a version of which is used in baking. Molasses is the by-product or “waste” from processing sugar cane or beet into table sugar. Refined table sugar creates blood sugar and insulin instability while providing no nutrients. Actually, refined sugar will pull nutrients, especially minerals, out of the body if consumed enough. Molasses on the other hand provides a sweetener that is safe for most glucose or blood sugar level issues and has several naturally available minerals. It has been used to help remedy many unhealthy conditions
- Turbinado sugar is also known as “sugar in the raw.” Turbinado sugar is from pure cane sugar extract. The term turbinado comes from the technique used in the making of this sugar. The sugar is spun in a cylinder or turbine. Turbinado sugar is brown looking like brown sugar, but paler in color with a subtle molasses flavor. Because this sugar undergoes very little processing, it is considered a healthier alternative to white sugar. The turbinado sugar crystals are much coarser than those of sugar that has been processed further. They retain much of the taste of molasses, which is a by-product that occurs naturally during sugar processing.