Overconsumption of sugar has ramifications that include in addition to contributing to obesity, contributes towards diabetes, cavities, compromised immune system, kidney damage, atherosclerosis, oxidative stress and cancer.
There are two types of sugars:
Non-caloric, natural sugar alternatives: Stevia which is a plant based sugar is a good alternative that can have beneficial health benefits as well like lowering blood pressure. Luo Han Guo or monk fruit has been used for hundreds of years in China is on the FDA GRAS list and as well can have health benefits like anti-fatigue qualities and some studies showed it inhibited skin cancer in animals.
Caloric Sugar Alternatives: Sugar alcohols have undergone less refinement than regular sugar products. Sugar alcohols can be found in fruit, vegetables and other plants. Examples are : erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. These do not contribute to tooth decay, but can cause bloating and diarrhea when consumed in excess. Erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine and excreted in the urine and because most of it doesn’t enter the large intestine it does not cause the laxative effect. Honey is composed of fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose and water and scores low on the glycemic index for a sweetener. Maple syrup contains less than 1% of fructose or glucose and scores low on the glycemic index and some thoughts are that since it scores low it is useful to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Poor sugar choices: Fructose is sugar and can raise triglyceride levels, increase weight gain and insulin resistance. Agave syrup, once thought to be a sugar alternative is 84% fructose and can raise triglyceride levels as well. It also has less antioxidant properties than refined sugar. Brown rice syrup also raises blood glucose levels and may also contain unsafe levels of arsenic. It is comprised of 45% maltose, 3% glucose and 50% maltodextrins.
Most people say sugar is sugar, but that is not true anymore. If you really need something sweet avoid those poor sugar choices along with refined sugars.