There are a lot of conflicting ideas about sugar floating around out there, and sometimes it can be a bit maddening. I’ve seen so many recipes labeled “sugar free” that contain a cup of honey, or maple syrup or dates. True, these sweeteners are less refined than traditional white sugar, but the fact remains that they’re still sugar.
But… it’s natural sugar …from nature!
Okay, that’s true. Honey and maple syrup and dates and coconut sugar are natural, and dates are actually a fruit. So, that makes these sweeteners healthy, right?
Not really, no. While there are more nutrients in these sugars than there are in refined cane sugar (don’t forget – sugar cane is also a plant!), all of these sugars will still raise insulin levels, and will have the same impact on blood sugar as refined white sugar.
No, but really – FRUIT sugar is bad?
Let’s not be hasty, here. I wouldn’t say that fruit sugar is “bad” per se, just that it’s still sugar, and will have the same effects on your blood sugar and mood that eating refined sugar has. Granted, sugar in fruit will absorb at a slightly slowed rate compared to the sugar in a candy bar (because fruit contains more fiber), but sugar is still sugar.
Fruit has another benefit, in that the whole fruit comes packaged not only with that handy fiber, but also with a bunch of micronutrients. Vitamins, minerals, random phytochemical – all in fruit. This is of course, preferable to consuming refined table sugar, or corn syrup (which is far more processed than maple syrup or honey, and has almost zero nutritional value).
If you’re baking, and don’t want to use a substitute like stevia or Swerve, then something like date sugar (which is literally ground up dried dates) is the best option. Just keep in mind, that date sugar (and honey, and maple syrup) are still sugars, and will still impact your serum glucose levels.