Refined sugar vs. Natural sugars

Refined sugar vs. Natural sugars. Is there a winner?

2014 saw sugar become the ultimate heath baddie; it gets blamed for everything from weight gain, to skin issues and diabetes.

Sugar has been shunned and the health conscious are now turning to natural sweeteners – think dates, honey and maple syrup, instead.

But while these may be ‘natural’, are they actually any better for you than the caster sugar lurking in your kitchen cupboard?

For some clarification, I turned to Lily Simpson, founder of The Detox Kitchen:

Refined sugar has a damaging effect on our health; it causes a rapid spike in our blood sugar levels. A crash usually follows this spike. Refined sugar is usually referred to as ‘empty calories’ since it has been processed and leached of all its nutrients, leaving it with zero nutritional value.

On the other hand, raw, unrefined sugar, such as honey, is totally unprocessed and thus more natural. All of its nutrients are left intact. When we eat a naturally sweetened treat, we don’t just satisfy our sweet craving, we may also be taking in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.”

I always advise steering clear of refined sugar. It causes inflammation in the body and is a surefire trigger for so many unpredictable skin conditions, including urticaria, acne and eczema.

Despite this, I’m the first to hold up my hands and admit that I have a sweet tooth – the office biscuit tin can be pretty hard to resist at 3pm on a rainy afternoon…!

Whether you’re trying to avoid refined sugar altogether or just trying to cut down on your intake, there are some great refined sugar-free recipes out there. Check out Hemsley+Hemsley, My New Roots, Deliciously Ella and Madeleine Shaw to get some inspiration.

Just remember, while maple syrup or raw honey may be more nutritionally valuable, enjoy it in moderation – it is all sugar, after all!

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