Agave Nectar, Honey & Raw Sugar...what's the deal?
I'll start with the first question--Sugar has 15 calories per teaspoon, Splenda is zero. So, you would THINK splenda, but you know this is a trick question so you'll answer sugar, but not really understand why? And you're not quite sure you will agree, am I right?
Theres not really a simple answer, and you'll learn, there never really is with me...
Once it was realized by people, nation-wide that we needed to start paying attention to the amount of sugar we consumed-- and how simply counting carb grams & fat grams were not enough...Sweet N' Low & Equal became the choice for "health conscious" people, in addition to diabetics. Anyone who was even slightly concerned about their weight become the ones adding these packets to their coffee in the morning.
Remember "Net Carbs". I think it was Dr. Atkin's that introduced the idea of "net carbs", or maybe it was "The Zone", or "South Beach Diet", I don't really remember, all I know is it was ALL OVER the front of products in the store. Frozen meals, protein bars, yogurt, breads, you name it. Products were made to be very low in "simple sugar", and then marketers took the total number of complex carbohydrates, and subtracted fiber, sugar alcohols and glycerin (which are all other forms of carbs) and claimed that the "net carbs", and what you needed to count, meanwhile, sugar alcohol and glycerin CAN effect blood sugar, so it was BS.
The "net carb" buzz fizzled, but our fear of sugar is still here. Sugar is a "simple carbohydrate" which means they're broken down and digested quickly are more easily converted into glucose because their molecular structure breaks down faster in the stomach and small intestine. Therefore these carbs raise glucose levels in the bloodstream quite rapidly (less than 30 minutes). This explains why diabetics, who occasionally suffer from an excessively low blood-glucose level, can quickly restore their balance by eating simple carb-foods, like hard candy or fruit juice.
The reason sugar causes weight gain, is when eaten and those glucose levels raise, a the rise of the hormone insulin is released from the pancreas to clear sugar and fat from the blood to use it for energy, when eating too much- it stores it in your tissue for later use, which causes weight gain.
People with type I diabetes produce little or no insulin, so this causes fasting blood glucose levels, and when blood sugar is high or low it becomes very dangerous to that individual who's body is not producing insulin. Part of the treatment is replacing that missing insulin hormone, and continuously testing blood sugar levels.
So now you get WHY you say "splenda" when asked what you like in your coffee, you know sugar made you fat, so this was the switch you made. From what I told you above, being a non-diabetic person trying to keep weight off, I just validated your point, right? Well, I am not so sure about that....
I am not denying that sugar, when eaten in excess cause weight gain. Which leads to obesity, that causes diseases such as type II diabetes and hypertension, high blood pressure, and so on. But, is it true that artificial sweeteners can be causing weight gain as well!? I believe it can.
I was watching "The Doctors" a few months ago, and Jillian Michaels was on from Biggest Loser, and I was SO glad they talked about this. I am going to quote her because I couldn't of said it better myself, and she verifyed my theory on how diet soda, and using fake sugar can increase cravings more than if you just satisfied them with a small amount of real sugar
“Artificial sweeteners are what’s called an excitotoxin, and what they can do is re-train your metabolism to not recognize the calories in sweet foods,” Jillian explains. “In theory, according to several studies, they excite the part of your brain that controls appetite and release a hormone called neuropeptide Y that increases appetite and stores fat.”
The doctors went on to say that Honey, agave nectar, stevia and xylitol are all healthy sweeteners to use as well.
So that brings me to the next question you may be wondering...Why are honey, and Agave Nectar any different from table sugar? There's the same amount of calories, and one would think this has the same effect on your blood sugar, causing the same problems if eaten in excess....
Honey, Agave Nectar, Pure Maple Syrup vs. Table Sugar
Ok, Honey and white sugar--they both contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose. Table sugar has its sugar bound into one molecule, but it is split immediately in your intestine to two single sugars. Since honey and table sugar are processed the same way, honey is not a quicker source of energy.
Honey does contain minerals, where table sugar has none. If measured ounce for ounce, honey contains less calories than sugar, because honey has water in it, which has no calories and refined sugar does not, which makes a tablespoon of white sugar contain 65 calories while a tablespoon of honey, having water, contains 45 calories. Honey can not be given to infants under the age of 1, but it has been shown be beneficial when given to adults and older children, especially when ill. Table sugar has no health benefits.
Other facts & benefits of honey:
Honey does not contain any harmful chemicals and is entirely utilized by the digestive tract.
contains iron and calcium, where white sugar does not
known to have antibacterial properties (As published in Science Daily)
known to have anti-inflammatory properties
studies have also shown that buckwheat honey given at bedtime reduces nighttime cough in children more effectively than over-the-counter cough medications.
Agave Nectar (aka Agave Syrup)- is a nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or "honey water." It is made when the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the pina) --sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Lighter and darker varieties of agave nectar are made from the same plants. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw foods enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food.
Agave, like honey and table sugar contains glucose and fructose, so it can be used in baking and preserving instead of white sugar.
Other facts & benefits of Agave Nectar:
Agave nectar has also been proven effective against enteric (intestinal) bacteria.
The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which provides sweetness without the unpleasant "sugar rush" and unhealthful blood sugar spike caused by many other sugars
Granulated sugar has an average glycemic index in the high 60's, while agave generally scores under 30
Agave nectar is completely vegan, meaning that it's appropriate for those whose diet and lifestyle choices exclude all animal products
100% Pure U.S.D.A. Maple Syrup-a natural sweetener made from the sap of maple trees.
According to research, Maple-syrup contains important and hard-to-get dietary elements manganese and zinc.
A benefit of magnese in maple syrup have been known to diminish harmful effects of free-radicals in your bodys cells
It may help to support reproductive health and provides special benefits for men
Benefits of getting Zinc-which is concentrated more highly in the prostate than in any other human tissue, and low levels of zinc in this gland relate to a higher risk for prostate cancer
In addition to Zinc, manganese in maple syrup is important since, as a component of the antioxidant SOD, it helps lessen inflammation, thus supporting healing. In addition, manganese may also act as an immuno-stimulant.
One ounce of maple syrup supplies 22.0% of the daily value for the trace mineral magnese, that benefits our health.
What is Stevia? Why is it different from any other zero-calorie sweetener?
To be honest I dont know MUCH about Stevia. I have heard mostly favorable things thus far.
When splenda came out, it was "made from sugar", no saccharin, but now the theory of it not recognizing the calories in sweet foods, and causing weight gain--makes spelnda not so favorable...Now, theres Stevia.
This is what I found through some research about Stevia
Stevia is NOT an artificial sweetener from what I understand. It has been used in Japan for over 40 years, and it comes from a sweet-tasting plant called stevia rebaudiana. It had traditionally been used by South American natives for hundreds of years as a sweetener. However, scientists discovered stevia and its active compounds, steviosides, at the turn of the century and have been studying since.
In an article by Allison Tannis, BSc., MSc. I gatheres this information
Some studies have shown trends where Stevia did not cause the same effect on blood sugar levels as sugar. Stevia is not a form of glucose (Metabolism March 2003), so theres no rise in blood sugar. Also, stevia appears to stimulate insulin production from the beta-cells of the pancreas and appears to increase glucose tolerance (i.e. anti-hyperglycemic effects). (Metabolism, February 2000) Therefore, diabetics may find stevia to be beneficial. These studies have varied and are not very extensive.
Other benefits studies have shown about Stevia:
has been studied for anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties
In an article in the NY Daily News, a spokes person for the ADA Toby Smithson, RD says
"Stevia has been used for years in Japan as a sweetener, but it’s more costly than, say, saccharin and, unless it is processed with the right ingredients, can have a licorice-like flavor that some people don’t like. On the other hand, it’s labeled “natural” since it comes from a plant. Prepared from an extract of the stevia shrub, it can be concoted into a sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than table sugar and has been shown to be a safe supplement for human use."
"Stevia, like other artificial sweeteners, still has its drawbacks, bitter aftertaste, bloating, gas and allergic reactions are among them."
Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, former chief chemist of the Department of Agriculture and Director of the Bureau of Foods, Sanitation and Health, stated about saccharin when it first became popular
Dr. Wiley also declared saccharin a harmful substance. When the ketchup manufacturers and canners wished to add saccharin to their products, he protested. During a hearing, the late Theodore Roosevelt, at that time President of the United States, was amazed to hear that saccharin was objectionable. "You are telling me, Dr. Wiley, that saccharin is injurious to health?" Roosevelt asked. "Yes, Mr. President, I do tell you that," answered Wiley. The President remarked: "Well, Dr. Rixey (at the time White House physician) makes me take it every day." Wiley was embarrassed and explained: "Probably he thinks that you are threatened with diabetes and considered it better for you than sugar."