We all know white, refined sugar wreaks havoc in the body, but what about the other forms of sugar? Are ‘natural’ sugars from fruits and vegetables ok? What if a packet says ‘diet’ or ‘sugarfree’? And what about stevia, the stuff native is made from? Before your brain combusts, we’ve decoded some info for you.. and presented it in a nice, neat format. Even better, we’ve ranked them from best, to worst.
- Stevia. All hail the green plant stevia! This wonderful little leaf has no calories, no carbohydrates and does not have an impact on GI levels (aka what causes that rollercoaster associated with a sugar high… and crash). As stevia is 300 times sweeter than refined sugar, once we have a little, it lessens our cravings for sweets later. And if that’s not enough for you, stevia has been demonstrated to help diabetics improve their blood sugar stability and lower blood pressure. Go stevia!
- In second place, come the sugars found in fruit / vegetables in their whole foods form (ie. not juiced or dried). Sometime the sugars here get a some bad PR, but is it justified? In a word: no. Rather than hate, we should celebrate - fruit and veggies are packed full of key micronutrients like dietary fibre, vitamins A, B group & C, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. And when we eat fruit & veg as a whole food (i.e. not dried or juiced, we have said this twice on purpose), we actually don’t experience experience the wild up and down that you might experience with refined sugar. It’s much more gentle. If you really want to be extra careful about the impact on your blood sugar (GI) levels, then go for low fructose fruits / vegetable: leafy green vegetables, pea pods, coconut, blueberries and raspberries.
- Although this is in third place, it doesn’t even deserve a ranking. Here we have aspartame, which is one of the main ingredients in sugar free / diet products. This chemical has been linked to a multitude of health problems, including chronic headaches, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety attacks, insomnia, sensory problems including a loss of vision, taste and hearing and muscle spasms. Once you consume aspartame, one of it’s components heads straight for your brain cells, killing them instantly (not even joking). The other component of this chemical also goes to the brain, this one acting to decrease our serotonin levels, which contributes to the development of psychological disorders such as depression. So yeah. Probably avoid.
There’s a nice little break down for you, plain and simple. Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated: eat a wholefoods, plant based diet and avoid chemically altered crap that your grandma wouldn't recognise. Enough said.