Brown Sugar vs White Sugar
The idea that brown and white sugar have big differences in nutritional value is a common nutritional misconception. The brown sugar sold at most grocery stores is actually white refined sugar with molasses added at the end. Natural brown sugar that hasn’t been refined yet contains higher ration of molasses, which contains microscopic amounts of many vitamins and minerals. But unless you eat an enormous amount of sugar every day, the mineral content difference between raw brown sugar, refined brown sugar and refined white sugar is pretty much insignificant. The only difference is that natural brown sugar is processed the natural way and is free from any harmful chemicals.
Not All Sweeteners Are Equal
It is never recommended to consume processed, refined products but they are actually a healthier replacement when compared to artificial chemical sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Aspartame, Suclarose, etc can cause a wide variety of damage to our bodies. Research shows that they should be avoided even though the artificial sweeteners can be found in more than 5,000 food products and all diet soft drinks sold in the United States. They can cause brain tumors and damage your nervous system and cause many neurological disorders and even death.
As with many other things, portion control is key with sugar consumption. If you frequently get sugar cravings, perhaps your body is craving natural sweets like fruits that contain a healthy variety of nutrients along with the sweetness. Often times, cravings are a signal from your body to alert us of a nutritional imbalance.
Stevia: Green Sweetener
The safest sweetener to use would be a high quality stevia. Stevia is a virtually-zero-calorie natural herb originating from South America that has been used for 1,500 years, and has been shown to be very safe. It is several hundred times sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need much. It is a powder that can be white or greenish. Stevia is a plant from Paraguay with an extremely sweet leaf. The leaf contains a chemical (stevioside) that is hundreds of times as sweet as sugar.
The FDA banned stevia in the 1990’s and claimed that stevia may be dangerous, and that further study was needed before it could be approved. A dozen countries, including Japan, China, and Brazil, had already approved the sweetener.
However, it was still illegal in America to use stevia as a “sugar substitute” as we crossed into the 21st century. But it was legal to sell it as a “dietary supplement.” The FDA allowed stevia to be sold as a dietary supplement because it pacified the people who were aware of and wanted stevia. Anybody who wanted it could get it, easily and cheaply, and it kept the majority of people on sugar or aspartame. If it was not available at all, surely there would have been protests that would have brought more attention to the natural sweetener that could have hurt the profits of the enormous artificial sweetener industry. Allowing stevia to be sold as a dietary supplement but not as a sugar substitute protected the interests of the people that make a living selling synthetic sugar sustitutes.
In a smart move to leverage their risks, beverage giants including Coca-Cola Co. had been eyeing stevia as a new low-calorie sweetener, but while the FDA had received requests to use stevia in food, they had maintained that “data and information necessary to support the safe use have been lacking.” That was the case until 2008, when stevia was finally released as the alternative sweetener Truvia. Stevia provides us with a “Green,” natural approach to sweetening our foods and drinks.
Even though this sweetener had passed the test of time, it was viewed as dangerous until proven otherwise. This was not, and still is not the case with the big-name artificial sweeteners on the market; they are assumed to be safe until proven otherwise. This kind of double standard raises questions about whether bureaucracy and politics are helping to protect us or harming our health. And it is further reinforcement of the necessity of each individual to educate themselves in order to take their health into their own hands and out of the hands of bureaucrats that have other priorities. Institutions and policies don’t heal people. Individual responsibility in nutrition, exercise and lifestyle do.
Sugar is not harmful unless consumed in excess quantities. But then again, that’s the story with everything. As they say, nothing is without poison. Dosage alone dictates toxicity. Moderation is the key to balance, harmony and wellness.