Can we talk about natural sugars? (Honey, maple syrup...) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 38 Old 12-20-2009, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on these. Raw honey I'm sold on as beneficial healthwise in moderation, but what about maple syrup and blackstrap molasses? (I've been off everything but honey and fruit for a bit of time now, but thinking about dabbling in other sweetners again to see if/how they impact how I feel...) I'd love to hear all of your thoughts on using these (in moderation of course). And for those of you who avoid most/all sugars, I'd love to hear from you as well. I think the best test (for me) is to try going w/out and then readding things in to see how they make *me* feel, but if you have any links on all of this stuff or thoughts/ideas, I'm interested in seeing them!!

I'm also interested in insulin and sugars, etc. I really don't know a lot about it all though and would love more info!

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#2 of 38 Old 12-20-2009, 06:49 PM
 
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I'm not much help here, but I am so interested to hear what other people say! I definitely need to limit sugar a lot more! I was really good about it for a few months, but then I slipped and that stuff is addictive!

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#3 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 01:50 AM
 
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Well... we definetly don't avoid sugar in general, so my take might not be relevant... but anyhow. We *LOVE* maple syrup on pancakes/skinny pancakes/french toast/waffles/etc. We have pancake night once a week where I make one of the above for dinner, and otherwise, we have them occasionally during hte week too. I think maple syrup is a great natural sweetener personally
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#4 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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Just wanted to add that from what I remember from Full Moon Feast, she said that maple syrup actually had nutrients and such in it like raw honey, so long as it is organic and not mass-produced; the un-organic stuff is processed with formaldehyde, if I remember correctly, which then of course alters all the healthy trace components in the syrup. I'm sure someone out there knows much more about this than I do!

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#5 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 11:17 AM
 
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Maple syrup, molasses and sorghum syrup are actually quite dense in minerals in a way that honey is not. They're even a richer source of some nutrients than many vegetables - not that that means we should eat them every day, you know? We mostly use honey, but I'll use the other stuff occasionally.

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#6 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by snowbunny View Post
Maple syrup, molasses and sorghum syrup are actually quite dense in minerals in a way that honey is not. They're even a richer source of some nutrients than many vegetables - not that that means we should eat them every day, you know?
Fascinating! I read this about blackstrap molasses, but not maple syrup...I want to look into that!

I live in an area full of maple trees and have access to local maple syrup. So I've got access to the really good stuff...

Mamadelbosque, I TOTALLY agree that maple syrup is way delicious! I just go back and forth on the idea of how many sweetners I/we *should* really be ingesting, from a health standpoint, and an evolutionary standpoint, yadda yadda yadda. (Testing myself will probably be the best source of info for me...my own response to foods usually tells me a lot!)

Glad to have posted this and am looking forward to more responses!

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#7 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 12:23 PM
 
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I really don't buy the need for 'organic' maple syrup. It is *ILLEGAL* to use formaldahyde in maple syrup production. ILLEGAL. It may have been used at one point, but it is *NOT* used anymore - if its found in maple syrup, the producers of that maple syrup are in BIG trouble. We get our syrup locally for super cheap ($25 a gallon), and its definetly NOT organic, and I am just so not worried about it. I've bought non-organic maple syrup at the store in the past, cause' I for one just do not see the need to spend 2 or 3x the price on syrup - its expensive enough as it is!!
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#8 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 01:28 PM
 
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I've been using Coconut Palm Sugar and I'm very happy with it so far. I get highs and lows from sugars - all sugars - honey and maple syrup included - and I don't get that at all with this. It's low glycemic which is very important to me. My dad, who is diabetic, does great with it - it doesn't affect his blood sugar at all.

My understanding is that you have to be careful because a lot of coconut palm sugars aren't actually from the coco nuciferous tree. Only the coconut palm from the coco nuciferous tree is low glycemic.

The only one certified is this one:
http://www.bigtreefarms.com/sweettreecoconutsugar/
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#9 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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I heard that maple syrup has a lot of calcium. One of the best priced I found was a super target and it says on the bottle that theirs is as good as organic b/c it comes from old forests where they don't use pesticides and whatnot anyways. Blackstrap molasses has a lot of iron.

Does anyone know the difference between "blackstrap" molasses and just (unsulfured) molasses?

We are far from sugar free around here! But I use a variety of natural sweeteners... but usually honey b/c it is the least expensive.
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#10 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 02:49 PM
 
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I have been nearly sugar-free at times... I'm hypoglycemic so I try to watch my sugars!

We use brown cane sugar these days... maple syrup when we can afford it... I don't think either have any great nutritional benefits but they are less refined & therefore less stripped of every little nutrient...

Blackstrap molasses is great due to the iron & calcium but the flavor is a bit strong for everyday use IMO so we don't use it as often as I'd like...

Agave nectar is tasty & has less impact on blood sugar, also is pretty cheap, we use it in place of any syrup in recipes or on pancakes...

We don't use honey (vegan) but it has a lot of nutritional & immune benefits too and I might use it if I wasn't grossed out by it lol.

We also just cut the sugar in everything we cook by about half.

So I guess it depends on why you're avoiding sugar, not sure if I said anything useful here lol

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#11 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 04:35 PM
 
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I like malt, and it's easy to make at home, but since there's hardly enough space to turn around in this place, I go with molasses and maple syrup, with a promise to myself to try birch syrup in the near future.

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#12 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Straggletag View Post
I like malt, and it's easy to make at home, but since there's hardly enough space to turn around in this place, I go with molasses and maple syrup, with a promise to myself to try birch syrup in the near future.
How do you make malt?

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#13 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 06:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amcal View Post
I've been using Coconut Palm Sugar and I'm very happy with it so far. I get highs and lows from sugars - all sugars - honey and maple syrup included - and I don't get that at all with this. It's low glycemic which is very important to me. My dad, who is diabetic, does great with it - it doesn't affect his blood sugar at all.

My understanding is that you have to be careful because a lot of coconut palm sugars aren't actually from the coco nuciferous tree. Only the coconut palm from the coco nuciferous tree is low glycemic.

The only one certified is this one:
http://www.bigtreefarms.com/sweettreecoconutsugar/
I have some of that same coconut palm sugar and like it, though I've been off all sweeteners for over a month so it's just been sitting there. I wanted to ask you where you saw that it is certified? We were discussing this in another thread some time ago and never found out. It doesn't say it anywhere on the bag, or on the website that I could find. It would be a weight off my mind to finally see it for fact!

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#14 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm loving all the replies!

I'll totally look into the coconut sugar--cool to hear it doesn't effect you and your dad the same way as honey etc... Blood sugar highs and insulin issues are very interesting to me, part of why I'm looking into this!

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#15 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by swood View Post
Does anyone know the difference between "blackstrap" molasses and just (unsulfured) molasses?
http://earthclinic.com/Remedies/mola...TRITIONALCHART
Quote:
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOLASSES AND BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES?
Regular ole molasses is the first or second boiling of cane sugar syrup while blackstrap is the third boiling of the syrup. Iron levels appear to increase 5% in the 3rd boiling
More details here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/art..._molasses.html


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#16 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 07:20 PM
 
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Interesting. We use mostly honey in baking and maple syrup on pancakes, in smoothies, etc. My kids LOVE blackstrap molasses in their yogurt - they've eaten it that way since babyhood. Not for me, though I do use it in pancakes and baked goods some time. I have agave nectar in the cabinet, but have never used it.

I'm curious about Cane Syrup - anyone know how refined it is? It's a pretty regional thing - I'm originally from Louisiana, and can't really find it outside of the deep South (my Mom ships it to me in Seattle occasionally). It doesn't appear to be very refined (taste similar to regular molasses), and I love it. Because I'm not sure how refined it is, I keep it for myself (the rest of my Yankee family is fine with that.)

BTW, Grade B maple syrup is less refined and, therefore has more nutrients in it.

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#17 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 07:22 PM
 
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btw, when I say Cane Syrup I mean the dark brown stuff - not the clear, simple sugar syrup that is also called cane syrup sometimes.

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#18 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 11:18 PM
 
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Slightly off-topic but what less-refined product could you use in place of corn syrup? Would Agave syrup or coconut sugar work? I don't make a lot of "candies" but have enjoyed my hand at marshmallows and toffee for Christmas gifts. Wasn't sure if I had options to sub out the Karo.

I bake with honey or sucanant for the most part. Coconut sugar in plain yogurt is so yummy though! And like others, we do maple syrup on pancakes.
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#19 of 38 Old 12-21-2009, 11:22 PM
 
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We love blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, honey, and palm sugar, though we do try to not eat too much of even unrefined sugar. we love the blackstrap molasses in oatmeal with cream. its soo good.

The blackstrap and maple syrup have a lot of minerals, the honey has a lot of enzymes, and the palm sugar has more minerals than refined sugar, and sometimes you just need sugar that will melt like cane sugar. None of them make my blood sugar and behavior spike as badly as refined sugar. I would also be happy to get unrefined cane sugar, if I could figure out what it was, but I don't trust the brands I see to definitely be unrefined and not "less refined".

If we bake, we almost always use molasses, maple syrup, or palm sugar and usually save the honey for non-cooking applications, since it ruins all those wonderful enzymes if you cook it, but sometimes we do cook it, if we want the taste.

We never use agave syrup, I would prefer to use white refined cane sugar to agave, which is I've heard, worse than high fructose corn syrup, and not actually a traditional sugar. (the only traditional use is for tequila making).

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#20 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 02:56 AM
 
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I did some research today in answer to my own question. "Ribbon cane syrup" is the official name of the cane syrup we grew up on in Louisiana. It comes from a species of cane that is only used for syrup, not sugar. I guess it's a pretty rare thing these days. It's even been listed on Slow Food's Ark of Taste as a food tradition at risk of becoming extinct.

Ribbon cane syrup isn't refined, it's boiled down just like maple syrup. Not sure what nutrients or minerals are present (as just a few small producers still make it and nutritional info is hard to come by) or if it's available "organic". Still, I'm glad to know my favorite pancake topping may not be so bad after all. If you're in the deep south, you might want to check it out.

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#21 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 08:25 AM
 
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I wish we could use honey but we are allergic to it. We use molasses in baked beans and baked goods, but maily maple syrup. We prefer Grade C which is the highest in nutrients. I get it for $30 a gallon which is a good price here, but I have to buy 5 gallons to get it.

We will not use agave.

For those that use honey, isn't cooking messing with the whole purpose of getting enzymes from it?
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#22 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 10:25 AM
 
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We never use agave syrup, I would prefer to use white refined cane sugar to agave, which is I've heard, worse than high fructose corn syrup, and not actually a traditional sugar. (the only traditional use is for tequila making).
Can you tell me more about this? I've been using agave occasionally for the past year or so but didn't think to look into it futher (AHHHH I FELL PREY TO THE CLAIMS ON THE BOTTLE!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?! Lol)

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#23 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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ahttp://www.naturalnews.com/024892_fr...od_health.htmlpparently there is a lot of fraud in the agave syrup industry, so it is possible to get an impure, unhealthy product.

I don't think that all agave products are equal, but from what I have read I do think that there are quality products out there that are what the manufacturers claim.

As with any "health food" product, once the large food corporations jump on the bandwagon, a lot of inferior products with exagerated health claims seem to flood the market.
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#24 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:12 PM
 
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I have some of that same coconut palm sugar and like it, though I've been off all sweeteners for over a month so it's just been sitting there. I wanted to ask you where you saw that it is certified? We were discussing this in another thread some time ago and never found out. It doesn't say it anywhere on the bag, or on the website that I could find. It would be a weight off my mind to finally see it for fact!
From their site:
Quote:
SweetTree™ Sustainable Sweeteners is launching the world’s first certified organic Evaporated Palm Sugar. Evaporated Palm Sugar is a low glycemic, highly nutritious cane sugar alternative that provides the sustained energy your body needs for a healthy lifestyle.

..................
SweetTree™ Organic Evaporated Palm Sugars are produced from the sun-kissed sweet nectar of tropical coconut palm sugar blossoms.
http://www.bigtreefarms.com/
I'm not sure what certification you're wanting? I know someone on another thread said it was certified by some other country or some such? And, I never knew exactly what they were saying was certified? Certified that it's organic? Certified that it's coconut palm? Certified that it's from the coco nuciferous plant?

To me, the above states that it is certified to be organic Palm Sugar from the coco nuciferous plant.
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#25 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There is also a lot of info 'out there' on how agave acts like HFCS in your body and is really hard on the liver. I never felt sugar highs w/ it the way I did w/ regular sugar or even maple syrup, etc, BUT the stress it could put on the liver freaked me out. I sure don't know enough about it though!!!

Here's some more info: http://www.living-foods.com/articles/agave.html
Quote:
Agave Syrup is advertised as “low glycemic” and marketed towards diabetics. It is true, that agave itself is low glycemic. We have to consider why agave syrup is “low glycemic.” It is due to the unusually high concentration of fructose (90%) compared to the small amount of glucose (10%). Nowhere in nature does this ratio of fructose to glucose occur naturally. One of the next closest foods that contain almost this concentration of glucose to fructose is high fructose corn syrup used in making soda(HFCS 55), which only contains 55% fructose.
And some more reading: http://www.westonaprice.org/Agave-Ne...-the-Gods.html

Just a start--if you look up agave dangers on google (or something similar) you'll find lots of links that might counter the 'agave is a wonderful, healthy, 'raw' sweetner' idea. I'm still not totally sure which side I believe, but typically avoid it b/c I'm unsure.

HTH


ETA: A followup on the WAPF article posted above: http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/10/0...l-good-or-bad/

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#26 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amcal View Post
From their site:

http://www.bigtreefarms.com/
I'm not sure what certification you're wanting? I know someone on another thread said it was certified by some other country or some such? And, I never knew exactly what they were saying was certified? Certified that it's organic? Certified that it's coconut palm? Certified that it's from the coco nuciferous plant?

To me, the above states that it is certified to be organic Palm Sugar from the coco nuciferous plant.
Ahh, ok. I wasn't worried about it being organic. The certification I mean is done by the PCA to prove that the sugar is even from the coco palm. We were discussing in this thread a while back how there is a lot of fraud in the palm sugar business as well, and the only way to know is if your coconut palm sugar has been certified by the Philippine Coconut Authority. Since the Big Tree sugar doesn't say anywhere that it is, I've always wondered. But they seem like a really legit company so I've bought it.

Now I just found at this link that they say their sugar was analyzed by PCA-TAL in 2000. I wonder if that's the same organization.

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#27 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you know what the difference is between coconut palm sugar and regular palm sugar? I'd love to learn more....

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#28 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:39 PM
 
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There's a book by Paul Bergner, The Healing Power of Minerals, Special Nutrients and Trace Elements. He's got a graph comparing select mineral content (cal, mag, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese) in white sugar, honey, brown sugar, regular molasses and blackstrap molasses.

There's not a lot of difference between white sugar and honey, they're both mineral depleting, even brown sugar has more of most of the minerals he lists, and though there are a couple honey's a little better on (than brown sugar), zinc and iron, the amounts of either are dwarfed by other food products.

He says that blackstrap molasses is the only one that's a net gain, nutritionally, and it's a really nice mineral supplement (should've expected that given how unappealing I find the flavor ). Regular molasses isn't as good, but it's noticeably better than either of the sugars or the honey. He doesn't include maple syrup, but based on flavor, I'd guess the mineral content isn't great--it really does seem like really mineral-dense foods have a very strong flavor.

That said--I'm still working on reducing sugars from our diet, and I use honey in unheated sweet treat applications. It's yummy, and sometimes that's good enough for me.
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#29 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Tanya. I wonder if he's talking about raw honey or heated honey. (I've just read such great things about RAW honey...in moderation of course.) I'm really working on using stevia a lot more in everything sweet I make, or just sticking w/ bananas and dates, etc. to avoid using actual sweeteners...

I think the reason I'm comfortable w/ honey (and maybe not other sweeteners) is that its GAPS/SCD and even paleo approved. Not that I totally follow any of those diets, but parts of them really resonate w/ me and I've switched in a lot of ways to a more GAPS style and paleo style diet. (Although I eat tons of tubers/starchy veggies...)

I guess I'm just looking to find a good balance for me. I've even looked into sugar alcohols (like xylitol) which just kind of freak me out... I'm glad to be able to read all these responses--very helpful!!!

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#30 of 38 Old 12-22-2009, 12:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FairyRae View Post
There is also a lot of info 'out there' on how agave acts like HFCS in your body and is really hard on the liver. I never felt sugar highs w/ it the way I did w/ regular sugar or even maple syrup, etc, BUT the stress it could put on the liver freaked me out. I sure don't know enough about it though!!!
Thanks (and thanks to the PP too) -- I really can't believe I didn't research this more carefully first, I research EVERYTHING!!

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