These Are the Facts - Natural Sweeteners Are Better Than Refined Sugars

The Western diet, which is high in fats and simple sugars, and low in fiber, is often considered to be a major cause of obesity.

In particular, research has demonstrated that the high sugar content plays a key role in the increasing numbers of obesity worldwide.

For this reason, many public health organizations strongly recommend limiting its intake.

But, sometimes, estimating how much sugar is too much is difficult, as many foods, even those deemed as ‘healthy’ (granola bars, cereal, yogurt), still contain added sugars in some form.

Compared to refined sugars, natural sweeteners are far healthier.

They not only give sweetness, but they can also improve metabolic health.

A recent study conducted by the Laval University in Quebec City, Canada compares the effects of simple sugars versus natural sweeteners.

What’s Important

Previous studies have shown that natural sweeteners have added health benefits.

For example, it was reported that honey can limit weight gain, and reduce high cholesterol and glycemia in both human and animal studies. [1] [2]

Agave and maple syrup were reported to stabilize glucose blood levels. [3] [4]

In addition, natural sweeteners are also packed with phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Some Details

The study was animal-based and it lasted for 8 weeks. During this time the mice were fed either a high-fat and high-sugar diet, or 6 different natural sweeteners.

Following this, they were examined for glucose levels, lipid storage, and inflammation.

The natural sweeteners used in this study were maple syrup, molasses, organic brown rice syrup, organic blue agave syrup, golden corn syrup, and pure natural honey.

Here’s what they found:

  • The consumption of all of the natural sweeteners, except corn syrup, was associated with lower insulin resistance, compared to refined sugars;
  • Both natural sweeteners and refined sugars caused a similar accumulation of fats in the liver;
  • However, all of the natural sweeteners, especially maple syrup, molasses, and agave syrup reduced insulin resistance and inflammation of the liver in the mice, compared to refined sugars.
  • Bottom Line

    When it comes to sugars, having a better understanding of their metabolic impact is imperative.

    Natural sweeteners are a much better alternative to refined sugars, especially because they have many added benefits.

    However, it must be noted that natural sweeteners are still a rich source of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.


    Resource: Valle, M.; St-Pierre, P.; Pilon, G.; Marette, A. Differential Effects of Chronic Ingestion of Refined Sugars versus Natural Sweeteners on Insulin Resistance and Hepatic Steatosis in a Rat Model of Diet-Induced Obesity. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2292. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082292 

    References:
    1.https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2008/961837/
    2.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027153171000254X
    3.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24005018/
    4.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25011004/
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