1

votes

Coconut sugar vs. Maple Syrup vs. Honey

Asked on March 30, 2016
Created March 16, 2013 at 4:25 AM

Which is the least evil sugar?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

@Axial, sugar is no less dangerous if you're avoiding fructose, since it's about 50% fructose. We have an enzyme called sucrase that cleaves sucrose into fructose and glucose, so if you eat free fructose plus glucose, or just sucrose, it's effectively the same (+/- using up sucrase.) Small amounts of fructose aren't dangerous. Chugging a liter of HFCS soda, is.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 16, 2013
at 10:07 PM

Actually, I'm just deleting this answer, because in addition to being wrong I don't have anything else to say.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 16, 2013
at 10:05 PM

@raydawg I'm aware of that, which is why people who specifically crusade against HFCS annoy me (and I sometimes wonder if the negative publicity around it was started by the sugarcane industry). I believed that maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar were much higher in fructose than that, but now that I've looked it up, it appears I was wrong. I've edited my answer accordingly.

0abbec29fdcc092e969885ad70aa4c11

on March 16, 2013
at 04:41 PM

Are you feelin' Luckie? That sugar is gonna KILL YOU! BWAHAHAHAHAAHA

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:28 PM

+1, and I'm not flaming you when I suggest this, but if you do find a high quality source of coffee without pesticides and low mold, you'll find you can drink it black without it tasting nasty. I prefer Kona, but being expensive, I tend to settle for Ruta Maya organic.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:01 PM

Yay for maple! I'm... not Canadian, but I just don't really care for the taste of honey.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:49 PM

So... which sugar would you consider least evil then, AxialGentleman?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:39 PM

@Travis, NOT true. If you work out to the point where you deplete your liver glycogen stores, you just had an effect on them, and in this situation, consuming fructose becomes less dangerous because it can be converted to glucose instead of triglycerides. Please stop spreading BS.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:51 AM

Nah, brah...it's the sugar zapping your brain cells.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4488)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:24 AM

'Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores'...now you're messing with my head Travis

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4488)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:22 AM

'Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores'...now you're messing with my head...

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4488)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:21 AM

'Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores'...now your messing with my head...

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:14 AM

Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:11 AM

Whichever one you enjoy eating most?

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 16, 2013
at 04:44 AM

Agreed. RAW honey (and preferably local) actually has health benefits (anti-bacterial, helps with allergies). The rest don't.

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7 Answers

4
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:25 PM

The differences are in the actual types of sugar inside of those is going to be less important, sure, there are some macro differences between sucrose, fructose, glucose levels, but in general those will tend to have similar levels, and therefore the same effect on fructose disposal and insulin response.

As a sidebar, I'm glad you didn't mention agave, which is nearly pure fructose, therefore highly dangerous, because livers can only process a small amount at any given time; large, chronic amounts deplete enzymes and tend to cause NAFLD.

So then the difference is going to be in the other stuff that comes along for the ride - minerals, enzymes, etc.

Honey has some interesting antibacterial properties, when applied to wounds, and also there are small amounts of minerals that come along for the ride with the others. These will vary from honey to honey, and from maple syrup to maple syrup, from coconut to coconut, etc. depending on where it was produced, and how it was processed. So anything said is only going to be a generalization.

Here's some data on processed vs unprocessed honey.

Here's some about coconut sugar vs sugar. While the mineral profile seems better with coconut sugar, it does have more fructose.

If you listen to "Magnesium Man" Morley Robbins's various podcasts, you'll find that we need quite a bit of magnesium to be able to process sugar, but refined sugars have had this stripped out, while more natural forms contain the minerals needed to safely process it. So a word of advice, if you're going to consume any form of sugar, increase your magnesium, and other minerals.

That said, there's only tiny amounts of these minerals along for the ride, so IMHO, it doesn't matter very much which source of insulin spike you choose, go for the least processed ones, and supplement with extra minerals. :)

Best to limit these, if you're thinking of using them to say, regularly sweeten your coffee, perhaps you should rethink your sweet tooth. If you're trying to avoid insulin spikes, perhaps have them very rarely and then have them in medium to high amounts, that way you only get one spike once in a while, and not chronically. But, the problem is high amounts of fructose in a spiked fashion is likely more harmful, so either way, you can't win.

The problem is with the question, different sugars are evil in different ways. Which evil are you willing to live with?

If you must have something sweet, would a pure extract of stevia work for you? (Only use a tiny amount where you would have used teaspoons before, and expect it to taste terrible in coffee). Are you ok with xylitol?

In terms of industrial versions, do you care about voting with your wallet for or against GMOs? Plain old sugar is likely made from GMO sugar beets. Xylitol, unless you avoid corn derived ones, or specifically buy brands that are non-GMO, you're voting for GMOs.

If you wish to avoid just fructose, and don't mind a highly processed sugar, perhaps a pure form of dextrose (glucose in crystal form) is better?

Now, if you opt for stevia or xylitol and you wish to stay VLC, beware when you're fasting, if you use these, they will trigger insulin just from your taste buds tasting sweet, but since you're not consuming any form of glucose, you may go hypoglycemic.

So ask yourself what your goals really are in choosing the lesser of many evils, but the meta question is, can you live without sweetened foods? If you have cravings for sweets, you're better off understanding and dealing with those, than attempting to pick the lesser evil.

If you're really asking, what can I use to make a paleo friendly desert, that's a completely different question and depends on whether you're putting a bit of sweetener on top, or just baking it in.

But hey, at least you're not opting for some carcinogenic, neurotoxic artificial sweetener that was originally intended as a rodenticide.

4
38f440817bacbbbdc014c5527426e6ba

on March 16, 2013
at 04:31 AM

My guess would be honey as it is the purest. You could literally pull a comb from an active hive and eat it, so raw unprocessed honey wins for me.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 16, 2013
at 04:44 AM

Agreed. RAW honey (and preferably local) actually has health benefits (anti-bacterial, helps with allergies). The rest don't.

2
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:08 PM

In my opinion - it doesn't really matter. Other than honey having antibacterial qualities (which disappear if you heat it) and grade B maple syrup having some good minerals, there isn't enough of a difference to make a difference. If you're eating enough that the tiny differences could make a difference, there's your problem, and even the least evil will give you trouble. If you're only having a teeny bit, then you're not having enough to matter.

I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I still have sugar in my coffee. Yes, the evil regular old (organic turbinado cane) sugar. I've weaned myself down to a teaspoon per cup in crap coffee and half a teaspoon in good coffee. Yah, not Paleo, but I also don't see how it's harmful in the context of a lowish carb Primal diet with the only other sugar coming from two or three servings of fruit or dark chocolate a week.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:28 PM

+1, and I'm not flaming you when I suggest this, but if you do find a high quality source of coffee without pesticides and low mold, you'll find you can drink it black without it tasting nasty. I prefer Kona, but being expensive, I tend to settle for Ruta Maya organic.

0abbec29fdcc092e969885ad70aa4c11

on March 16, 2013
at 04:41 PM

Are you feelin' Luckie? That sugar is gonna KILL YOU! BWAHAHAHAHAAHA

2
A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

on March 16, 2013
at 12:59 PM

I eat honey and maple syrup (I actually prefer maple syrup, even if honey is more paleo. I'm a loyal and proud Canadian).

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on March 16, 2013
at 01:01 PM

Yay for maple! I'm... not Canadian, but I just don't really care for the taste of honey.

1
Cbda678b2a6bf0537d8c4ea0ce8aa9ad

(4319)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:16 PM

I avoid them all. Had to make the break.

1
72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 16, 2013
at 05:11 AM

Those are all quite high in fructose. They're marketed as healthy because they have a lower glycemic index, but that's because the sugar all goes straight to your liver. If you are highly active they'll help you replenish glycogen, and if you are definitely not eating a caloric surplus then it probably won't matter, but if you have any tendency to put on fat, they may make that much more likely.

Anti-sugar superstar Robert Lustig has theorized that fructose may do much more to contribute to obesity than other forms of sugar. However, I suspect that on an otherwise low-carbohydrate diet it's less problematic.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:49 PM

So... which sugar would you consider least evil then, AxialGentleman?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:51 AM

Nah, brah...it's the sugar zapping your brain cells.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:14 AM

Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4488)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:24 AM

'Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores'...now you're messing with my head Travis

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on March 16, 2013
at 12:39 PM

@Travis, NOT true. If you work out to the point where you deplete your liver glycogen stores, you just had an effect on them, and in this situation, consuming fructose becomes less dangerous because it can be converted to glucose instead of triglycerides. Please stop spreading BS.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19072)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

@Axial, sugar is no less dangerous if you're avoiding fructose, since it's about 50% fructose. We have an enzyme called sucrase that cleaves sucrose into fructose and glucose, so if you eat free fructose plus glucose, or just sucrose, it's effectively the same (+/- using up sucrase.) Small amounts of fructose aren't dangerous. Chugging a liter of HFCS soda, is.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 16, 2013
at 10:05 PM

@raydawg I'm aware of that, which is why people who specifically crusade against HFCS annoy me (and I sometimes wonder if the negative publicity around it was started by the sugarcane industry). I believed that maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar were much higher in fructose than that, but now that I've looked it up, it appears I was wrong. I've edited my answer accordingly.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4488)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:21 AM

'Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores'...now your messing with my head...

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4488)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:22 AM

'Activity doesn't have any effect on liver glycogen stores'...now you're messing with my head...

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 16, 2013
at 10:07 PM

Actually, I'm just deleting this answer, because in addition to being wrong I don't have anything else to say.

0
B4eb1af118672c247ffdb4069da5d1c3

on June 03, 2013
at 08:06 PM

go with good honey and maple syrup, had gout a few times and since i cut out white sugar white flour and alcohol and red meat, and lobster i've been gout free for 6 years now that is no fluke

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