How about natural sugar? Are they better for me?
The short answer: Not all of them.
Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar are all natural sugar but they are still counted as added sugar when they are added to food. It could be purified, raw, organic, natural, (and all the other fancy words with health halo), but they are still added sugar.
Some people (Are they selling brown sugar?) might tell you brown sugar has more minerals and vitamins than refined sugar so you should eat those instead. But let’s be honest, that’s only a trace amount. You’ll get less than 1% of your daily recommended intake of B vitamins from a tablespoon of sugar. It's not worth the calorie.
Don’t be fooled – your body metabolizes all the sugars the same way. It cannot distinguish between brown sugar, honey from refined sugar. (PS: fructose is a bit special as it's metabolizes entirely in liver and can cause fatty liver disease if overly consumed.)
The Real Good Options:
- Stevia: Natural source, zero calorie, some people can detect aftertaste (a lot of researchers are working on it!).
- Monk fruit: Natural source, zero calorie. Does not increase blood sugar level or cause tooth decay. Taste closer to sugar than stevia
- Xylitol: Does not increase blood sugar level but do have calories. (2.4 calories per gram)
- Erythritol: Usually blended with other high intensity sweeteners. Does not increase blood sugar level or cause tooth decay. (0.24 calories per gram)