Is unrefined sugar better for you?

Monday, 24 October 2016

Sugar. It's become a dirty word. Well, the refined kind of sugar because unrefined sugars are healthier and better for you, right? 

Nope. 

For a long time I've tried my best to stay away from refined sugars (white, brown and caster), choosing things like maple syrup and agave nectar instead because that's what all the health bloggers were doing. Unrefined sugar or 'refined sugar free' have become buzz words and we've become obsessed with 'natural' and 'clean' sugars. Maple syrup, date syrup, coconut sugar and agave nectar are the healthy sugars and anything refined is bad.

Or at least that's what myself and many others were lead to believe.

This was something that always bothered me, it just didn't feel right because surely regardless of the source of the sugar and whether it is refined or not it is still sugar? I tried looking up more about it but became so bombarded with information and facts that I didn't quite know what to believe. From what I could tell, there really is very little benefit to having maple syrup over cane sugar in terms of their nutritional values because at the end of the day it's still sugar.

I've wanted to write about this for a long time now but I just felt I didn't have the knowledge or credibility to do so - I'm not a scientist or a nutritionist, all I know is what I've read online. A few weeks ago I came across a wonderful blog post written by Pixie from Plant Based Pixie who is a scientist and who knows her stuff on this topic and I just felt so happy that someone had finally set the record straight and said that actually, unrefined sugar is not better or healthier for you. Laura Thomas, another kick-ass woman of science, has also written about this topic busting the myth that 'refined sugar free' is a thing. It's definitely not a thing.

I used to be scared of refined sugar, brainwashed to believe that everything had to be refined sugar free and that using unrefined sugars is much healthier and better for you. Health bloggers everywhere were shunning cane sugar and instead using a litre of maple syrup in their baking to make 'healthy' cakes. I'm no expert but I was pretty sure that didn't make the cake healthy...

Now I know that sugar is sugar, refined or unrefined, it doesn't matter. So, I'm going to stop worrying and embrace it. Obviously, too much sugar isn't great for you, I'm not saying you should all go and start guzzling down all the chocolate in the world, but we need to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that certain types of sugar are healthier. If I want something sweet and sugary it really doesn't matter what the source of the sugar is. I'm still going to enjoy eating cakes and chocolate when I fancy them but I won't be spending a fortune on 'unrefined' sugars to make them healthier.

I'm done with 'refined sugar free'.

To find out more about the actual science on this, head over to these wonderful posts:
Does Being Refined Sugar Free Make you Healthy?
Natural vs. Artificial Sweeteners
We Need To Talk About 'Refined Sugar Free'

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