The Skinny On Sugar & Sweeteners

Categories: Sugar Rush

Rachel Miller
Fruit tarts are a delicious combination of refined sugar and natural sugar.

My grandmother, Gloria, should have lived to be 120. She didn't drink soda, refused processed food, exercised, watched her salt & sugar consumption, and controlled her portions. While my siblings and I would stuff our faces at family picnics with hunks of rich sugary cake, she would eat a small sliver and be content. Gloria would only eat plain, saltless microwave popcorn, because she said the butter had bad chemicals in it. Unfortunately, she smoked, inhaling chemicals instead of ingesting them.

Today, we are more aware of the dangers of smoking, but are we aware of the items that line the grocery store shelves, like our sweeteners?

Many have adopted an alternative sweetener for health reason, be it diabetes or watching waistlines. We are facing more dietary issues than ever, causing an increase in the variety of products to choose from. As the sugar aisle is ever expanding with sweet options, are we researching before we start adding these to our foods?

See also: DIY Iced Cookies: Get Ready For Holiday Cookie Fun

Rachel Miller
Sugar options offered at Sprouts.

Cane Sugar - Sugar cane is thought to have originated in New Guinea, and was then carried to Asia via migration. The process of transforming the sugar cane into a useable product was developed in India by pressing the cane juice out, and boiling it down to form syrup coated sugar crystals. By washing then these sugar crystals, we start down the road to refined sugar.

Cane sugar is what your grandma used to make her confections, and most likely, what you grew up on.

Beet Sugar - As sugar consumption rose to its height in the 18th century, and it became more readily available to all people, not just the upper class, it's almost as if the human race started jonesing for a sugar fix. New methods were developed for extracting sugar. Utilizing brandy to extract sugars from the white beet, a Prussian chemist, Andreas Marggraf, developed this technique to allow northern climates to grow their own form of sugar, similar to the sugar cane. It can be used the same as cane sugar, and does not have a distinctive flavor.

Brown Sugar - I always think of brown sugar as having a coating of molasses on it, as that is essentially what it is. This is sugar that has a richer flavor, giving a more caramel note, than it's refined sibling cane sugar.

Often brown sugar is chosen to enhance flavor versus sweetness.

Rachel Miller
Molasses options include an organic blend and blackstrap, the final yield.

Molasses - The dark liquid leftover from the refining process of cane sugar, molasses comes out of the crystallization process, and since this is done in steps, there are different grades of molasses. While the molasses you see on the shelf is typically a combination of these grades, there is blackstrap molasses, which is the final yield from the process of crystallization. Molasses is used more for it's rich caramel flavoring than for the sweetness factor.

Maple Syrup / Maple Sugar - Sap drained from the maple tree is then boiled, and reduced to create the syrup that is maple syrup. Due to the expense of real maple syrup, beware of imposter syrups. Always check the label as some list the first ingredient to be high-fructose corn syrup, followed by maple flavoring. Maple syrup is typically used for it's rich flavor in baked goods.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I know that it can be annoying to hear from the grammar/spelling police, but the possessive of the word "it" is its, not it's. "It's" is the contraction for "it is." For example, the sentence "Like it's sister sweetener, aspartame, it is also 200 times sweeter than cane sugar" should be "Like its sister sweetener, aspartame, it is also 200 times sweeter than cane sugar." For that matter, I question the claim that Splenda and aspartame are sister sweeteners. They actually are very different products.

Now Trending

From the Vault