The start of the year is a common time for making changes in our lifestyle and eating habits. Sugar is now the new fat and we are all aware we need to cut down on sugar consumption. But are natural sugar substitutes like maple syrup, dates and agave really healthier for us? Many food bloggers and writers would have us believe they are and there is a growing trend in the mainstream media to encourage us to swap sugar for natural sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, dates and the latest sweetener on the market – Stevia.
Here at SLOAN! Magazine we want to help you cut through the hype and confusion so we went to leading Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Matthew Banks at The Lister Hospital and asked him: Are natural sugar substitutes like maple syrup really healthier than sugar?
Dr Matthew Banks comments:
“On the whole, these sugar substitutes contain as much sugar as refined sugar and all contribute towards poor health including obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and all the health implications of these conditions.
For example maple syrup from maple sap contains at least 66% sucrose which is the same as table sugar. The difference is that refined sugar has been bleached and is devoid of any other minerals or vitamins. Maple syrup typically contains high levels of minerals such a zinc and manganese. However, maple syrup is processed by boiling until the sugar condenses which may destroy many of the vitamins.