Myth or Reality? Are Some Sugars Healthier Than Others?

Intuitive eating
Healthy eating
Pancakes with maple syrup and a latte

Are some types of sugars better than others? Not really. That’s a myth.

What does maple syrup, agave syrup, white sugar, brown sugar and honey have in common? They are all sugars! Some are less refined or sweeter than others... There is something for everyone's taste buds. However, when we digest them, our body transforms them all into a single molecule: glucose. This is what our brains and muscles like best, it's their main fuel!


But isn't honey better than white sugar?

Not really. Ultimately, our bodies will metabolize honey and refined white sugar the same way. However, just because their metabolisms are similar doesn't mean they are equal! There are several reasons why one form of sugar is preferred over another. Maple syrup encourages local maple syrup producers. White sugar is less expensive. Honey promotes pollination and biodiversity. Still, we must remember something very important: sugar is not forbidden. We should never feel guilty for choosing to put sugar instead of applesauce in our muffins! If you want to learn more about making peace with certain foods, such as sugar, intuitive eating might be a solution for you. Contact us for personalized advice.

Are natural sugars better?

Sugar is found in a large variety of foods. They are either added through processing or naturally present in food (in an apple for example). Sugars are a form of carbohydrate and are not bad in themselves. However, natural sugars (in fruits and legumes, for example) are preferred over large amounts of added sugars. Natural sugars tend to be found in foods that contain more fibre and keep us full for longer. It is generally recommended that no more than 50 g of added sugars be consumed in a day, the equivalent of 12 teaspoons.

What about artificial sweeteners?

Aspartame, stevia, erythriol, saccharin or sucralose are increasingly found on the market. The list of permitted sweeteners is carefully controlled by Health Canada. However, the scientific community does not agree too much about them. Their health effects are still under study. One thing is certain: although they have no calories, these sweeteners maintain our taste for sweet food. But does this mean that they should be banned from our diet? No, it only means that when the opportunity arises, they should be used in moderation. To know more about artificial sweeteners, check out our article "Zero Calories, Zero Consequences?".

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist