That said, it’s sensible to eat the white stuff in moderation, as you probably already know that too much isn’t good for you.
The problem is that refined sugar is everywhere – it’s often hiding in everything from your cereal to your cupboard sauces. In an effort to cut back, some people rely on natural alternatives, but so-called ‘healthy sugar substitutes’ might not be as good for you as you think.
“With sugar alternatives, it’s really important to remember that there is very little difference between them,” says dietician Sophie Medlin.
“While refined table sugar has been demonised and alternatives given a health halo by the wellness community, it’s important to remember that most of them have the same effect on our blood sugars, insulin production and dental health.”
“Maple syrup has around three calories per gram, which is one less than table sugar,” explains Medlin. However, she says you should take this with a pinch of salt, as we usually use a lot more syrup as it’s in liquid form.
Because of this, we could be unwittingly increasing our calories by opting for syrup. “Maple syrup is a delicious alternative to table sugar, but there are no additional health benefits,” she adds.
“Coconut sugar sometimes contains prebiotic fibre, which feeds our good bacteria and is linked to slower carbohydrate release,” she explains.
“That said, you should keep in mind that it’s still going to cause the same tell-tale blood sugar spikes and dental decay that you get with refined sugar.”
Honey has some good things going for it. “It contains trace amounts of useful nutrients such as antioxidants and B vitamins, but it still has almost exactly the same effect on our blood sugars and teeth as sugar,” says Medlin.
“Just like maple syrup, there may be a tendency to use more of it because we think of it as healthy, but it will promote weight gain in the same way as table sugar.”