The Healthiest Sugar Out There

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We all know that refined sugar and corn syrup are just empty calories with no nutritional value, but what about the “healthier”sugars, i.e. agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, turbinado sugar, brown rice syrup and coconut sugar? The Journal of American Dietetic Association measured the antioxidant levels of 12 different types of sugar: agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, date sugar, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, raw cane sugar, white sugar and turbinado sugar. The research found that blackstrap molasses and date sugar are the only two sugars with significant nutritional value with date sugar being the best.

For anybody who has never heard of date sugar, it is created by pulverizing dates into powder. Date sugar is a great sugar alternative because it contains fiber which will not spike the blood sugar.

Ultimately, the research found that virtually all other sugar varieties besides blackstrap molasses and date sugar contain relatively similar nutritional benefits.

Here’s a break down of the findings:

Almost No Nutritional Value (<0.01 mmol FRAP/100 g)
+ agave nectar
+ refined white sugar
+ corn syrup

Minimal Amounts Of Nutritional Value (0.1 mmol/100 g)
+ raw cane sugar

Small Amounts Of Nutritional Value (0.2 to 0.7 mmol FRAP/100 g)
+ dark brown sugar
+ turbinado sugar
+ coconut sugar
+ light brown sugar
+ maple syrup
+ honey

Significant Amounts Of Nutritional Value (4.6 to 4.9 mmol/100 g)
+ blackstrap molasses
+ date sugar

* The ferric-reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) assay was used to estimate total antioxidant capacity.

In the end, replacing the average intake of 130 g/day of refined sugar with high antioxidant sweeteners like date sugar or molasses could increase antioxidant intake an average of 2.6 mmol/day, similar to the antioxidant level found in a serving of berries or nuts.

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19103324
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/