Glucose is metabolized by almost every cell in the body and is the main energy source in cellular function. Even though glucose fuels your cells, the body can function using fuel from fat and protein. If you participate in high-intensity activities it's good to have some glucose from carbohydrates to help fuel your body. If glucose levels are too high it is called hyperglycemia. High blood sugar levels happen when the body either can't make insulin (type 1 diabetes) or can't respond to insulin properly (type 2 diabetes) If blood sugar levels are too low it's called hypoglycemia. Very low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that need to be treated right away.
Sugar is made from either sugar cane or sugar beets. The plants contain juices that become sugar crystals, syrups and molasses. Sugars that are closer to their natural state are likely to be richer in minerals, however, the processes of washing, boiling, centrifuging, filtering and drying sugar cane and beets to make "refined sugar" takes away nearly all of the plant’s nutritional ingredients. What remains is insignificant in minerals and thus has no nutritional value.
Brown Sugar is most often ordinary table sugar that is turned brown by combining it with molasses. This creates a sugar mixture with only 5 percent to 10 percent molasses, making white sugar and brown sugar similar nutritionally. Brown sugar that is labeled "raw sugar” is really sugar that has not been fully refined.
High Fructose Corn Syrup With a slightly higher fructose level than sugar, HFCS does most of its damage because it's added to an array of processed foods, including breads, yogurts, ketchup, and even salad dressing. Today, Americans ingest at least 200 calories of HFCS daily. (It's banned for use in organic food.) According to Robert Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of California–San Francisco, HFCS is preferentially stored as fat in the liver and makes people resistant to leptin (a hormone), which actually increases appetite. A 2009 study published in the journal Environmental Health also found that HFCS is sometimes laced with mercury, a heavy metal linked to autism and heart disease.
Maple Syrup turn to real maple syrup if you want a naturally sweet treat. It's lower in calories and packed with more minerals than honey, and may even ward off cancer and heart disease. When you're buying it, just make sure the label reads 100 percent maple syrup
Raw, Local Honey has been a food source for thousands of years. Raw honey is believed to have a number of antioxidants and isn’t as likely to cause a spike in blood sugar because it is low on the glycemic index. Raw honey is one and a half times sweeter than sugar so you will tend to use less of it.
Molasses is higher in calorie content. It is made by refining sugarcane and sugar beets. During processing, sugar crystals are extracted leaving a dark, syrupy mixture. If the molasses is from sugarcane grown in high quality soil, it can have an abundance of minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. Blackstrap Molasses is the darkest color molasses you can get, and this indicates the presence of less sugar, and more nutrients like iron, potassium and calcium.
Agave is derived from a plant found mainly in Mexico and contains a sweet, sticky juice that is ninety percent fructose. Processed agave actually has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you wish to use agave as a sweetener buy types with no more than 30 to 40 percent fructose. Agave is one and a quarter times sweeter than sugar.
Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. The stevia plant is a naturally sweet herb. It is considered the safest sweetener. This sugar alternative has 0 calories, comes in powder and liquid form and works well in everything but baking.
Fruit Juice elevates blood sugar faster than whole fruit. Most fruit juice sold in grocery stores contains little to no fruit. Juicing fruit removes the fiber and skin from the whole fruit causing you to miss out on many of the great nutrients. It takes 3-4 pieces of fruit to fill an 8 ounce glass with 100% juice. Would you really sit down and eat 3-4 apples? Drink 100% fruit juice as a replacement for something unhealthy like soda, but not as a replacement for whole fruit.
A final note about sweeteners: Don't think that a soda with stevia is any better than a soda with high fructose corn syrup. They are both bad for you. That goes for any baked goods like cookies, cakes, pies, etc. We need to eat much less of all of these sweeteners. I don't mind using refined sugar in baking. I know how much sugar is in my baked goods because I measure it out, so I don't make them often and don't eat much of them. By making your own homemade foods you get to see just how much sweetener is in the food you eat and can easily cut down on the amounts in any recipe. Remember we all realize that sugar is in soda, cookies, and cakes. It is also in sauces, condiments, and most packaged foods. Read the labels!