Simple sugars are rapidly absorbed into our bloodstream, resulting in a sharp increase in blood sugar levels along with a corresponding energy surge. Sugars or sweeteners with a low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) do not have a significant influence on altering blood sugar levels or insulin secretion and therefore the body may be able to metabolise the energy consumed.
Sugars or sweeteners with a high glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) do have a significant influence on increasing blood sugar levels, stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas (to reduce blood sugar levels by transporting the excess glucose to muscles or the liver for storage) while storing any excess as fat.
Balancing blood sugar is important for maintaining energy levels and weight maintenance as blood glucose levels are significantly associated with the regulation of appetite.
GI and GL along with the different types of simple and complex carbohydrates will be explained in another post.
Sugars to avoid: generally highly refined, heated & lack nutrients.
White sugar: is stripped of most (90%) of its vitamins and minerals during processing and has a high GI of 65
Brown sugar: is white sugar with added molasses.
Corn or high fructose syrup: puts stress on the body’s metabolism and produces inflammation.
Sugars to limit: less refined, contain some nutrients.
Barley malt extract: contains some B vitamins, minerals and protein. Has a GI of 42
Brown rice syrup: contains a few nutrients and has a low GI of 25. Has been heated in its process
Rapadura or Panela: Produced from cane sugar that has had minimal processing therefore it retains vitamins and minerals, however it has a GI of 65.
Molasses: produced from cane sugar and contains high levels of vitamins and minerals (zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron) however it has a GI of 55
Agave syrup or nectar: produced from the sap from the agave plant. It is approximately 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and has a low GI of 15. Contains high levels of fructose.
Maple syrup: produced from the sap from the maple tree and is very high in minerals with a GI of 54.
Xylitol: Found naturally in corn, plums and birch bark. It has a low GI of 7 making it a suitable alternative for diabetics. Xylitol promotes oral health by inhibiting the replication of bacteria and reducing the likelihood of tooth decay.
Stevia: produced from a perennial shrub. Has a GI of 0 having no impact on blood sugar and is approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar. Can have a after taste.
Natvia: is stevia that is blended with a natural nectar that reduces the sweetness of the product and may be substituted one for one with sugar. It is also fructose free.
Raw Coconut sugar: produced from the sap of coconut palm flowers. Low GI of 35. Rich in minerals; potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron. Compared with brown sugar, it has twice the iron, four times the magnesium and ten times the zinc. Coconut sugar contains short chain fatty acids, polyphenols, antioxidants and fibre which may slow glucose absorption
Yacon syrup: extracted from the yacon plant producing a dark sweet syrup with a GI of 1.
Raw honey: contains vitamins, minerals, protein and enzymes and has a GI of 30