Attempting to cut down your sugar intake by using artificial sweeteners may actually be worse than bad for you. When there are so many natural alternatives we need not subject our bodies to such distress. The principal problem with sugar is its prevalence. There’s sugar added to deli meats, breads and canned vegetables. Sugar is abundant in every commercially produced convenience food, be it savoury or sweet. In fact, the lines are being so distorted that some savoury snacks contain more sugar than traditional desserts.

Sugar intake and sweet treats

If we become aware of this, and realise that super refined white sugar is doing us no good, we can heal ourselves through our food choices. First, try and make those convenient little snacks of which you are so fond. A batch of muffins freezes fantastically and will easily last you a month in morning teas. Or look for products which are trying to do you and the environment right, by using minimally processed forms of natural sugars, which actually provide nutrition not malnutrition. The documented science of over-consuming white sugar is hurting our children and our society. If your body gets no benefit from a food, then how can we say it nourishes; heart, mind, body or soul.

Evaporated cane juice is a far cry from its processed cousin. Even what the supermarkets term as ‘brown’ sugar is usually white sugar which has been colour coated with molasses. Evaporated cane sugar has a different grain, more rustic in texture is how I would describe it. As the name suggests the extracted juice of sugar cane is simply evaporated until a solid lump remains, which is then ground and sold to you. All of the natural compounds and trace nutrients remain. It even tastes lighter than ‘moscadavo’.

Similar to the way a bee creates honey, through enzymatic action, the complex sugars in the juice of the agave cactus are converted into simple sugars, so producing ‘agave nectar’. If you buy reputable agave syrup from a company committed to minimal processing and low heat manufacturing, then you will come home with a sweetener with many vitamins, minerals and beneficial enzymes. ‘Dark agave syrup’ is not filtered, so it retains a maximum of minerals and phytonutrients. Its rich vanilla reminiscent aroma bursts into a deep wild flavour. Whilst ‘light agave syrup’, although slightly more processed, makes a seamless replacement for sugar in delicate cooking applications.

Documented benefits of agave stem from the complex forms of fructose known as inulin, which is the main form of carbohydrates found in agave. These are absorbed slowly into ones blood stream, have a low GI, and are an accepted form of sugar for diabetics. As it does not raise blood sugar levels significantly, children and parents alike will benefit from the sustained, steady source of energy it provides.   Now let’s look at something even more extreme – syrup from the root of the yacón tuber. High in dietetic fibre, the tuber stores its carbohydrates as fructooligosacaride (FOS) – a polymer composed mainly of fructose. Whist most tubers, like potatoes, store starch – a polymer of glucose. When dried the yacón root is composed of between 50% to 70% fructose polymers and a low proportion of simple sugars. The human body is actually unable to digest the bulk of yacón’s sweetness, due to a lack of a specific enzyme in our tummies. Thus the calorie intake is reduced to the small proportion of simple sugars. Furthermore, those undigested inulin sugars do us no harm. Rather, they feed the friendly bacteria in our colon such as the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species; also known as ‘ABC’ cultures.

Clinical studies have established that ingesting inulin increases the population of friendly bacteria in the colon; simultaneously reducing the number of harmful bacteria. Pressed from wild roots, ‘yacon syrup’ has a sweet flavour and aroma. Use it as a sweetener and prebiotic whose glucose free sweetness is low in digestible calories.

To really rally on the side of the yacón: it provides 20 essential amino acids, has one of the highest levels of potassium found in any plant food, high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus, and the FOS increase the bodys production of benefitial short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. These acids increase our absorption of calcium and magnesium as well as improving toxic compound elimination from our system. So its a sugar that is healthy, healing, digestion aiding, low in calories, suitable for diabetics, helps lactose intolerant increase good bacteria levels, and sweet to boot.


Living Earth: and and
Many Sugar-Free Food Products Mislabeled, Warns FDA, by David Gutierrez, at