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Ask Kim: Which Sugars Are Cleaner Than Others?

Kim McDevitt

Q: Are there cleaner forms of sugar besides the usual white granulated type?

A: The most commonly used sweetener today is white table sugar. This sugar —crystalized sucrose derived from sugar beets or sugarcane — is highly refined and processed to achieve its fine texture and white color.  While no sweetener is good when consumed in excess we’re still human and need to be able to enjoy a little sweetness now and again (in our opinion!) Thankfully, there are a lot of natural sugar alternatives to that white stuff that are less highly processed and sometimes even impart some vitamins and minerals. But be mindful that in our bodies all forms of sugar are metabolized the same way so even the better-for-you options should be consumed in moderation:

Coconut sugar A recent favorite of mine, coconut sugar is made from the evaporated sap of coconut flowers, boiled down and granulated — bye, bye chemical processing. Packed with potassium, it adds sweetness naturally and tastes similar to brown sugar. You can substitute it 1:1 for white sugar in baking recipes. It replaced great and I’ve personally been using it in all my cookie recipes lately.

Raw, organic honey Made by extracting honey from honeycombs of beehives and then separating it from impurities, I love using honey to sweeten my homemade granola, drizzle on yogurt bowls or swirl into a cozy tea. It’s even so good in a cup of coffee.

Organic maple syrup Made from boiled-down maple tree sap, maple syrup is a good source of manganese and zinc. It’s a great option for baking and cooking and of course to top those breakfast waffles and pancakes. Definitely check the syrup you’ve currently got in your refrigerator as many syrup-like options are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup and artificial flavors.

Molasses Although it’s a bit less obvious or common to reach for, I am a huge fan of molasses, which is the thick, rich syrup left behind when sugar is refined. The biggest attraction is the amazing mineral content it imparts including potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, making it a great sweetener for athletes to reach for. Try it stirred into oatmeal or yogurt or use as a sweetener next time you make a batch of homemade granola.

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