“…sweeteners could increase antioxidant intake … similar to the amount found in one serving of berries or nuts.”
That was the conclusion of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. (Total Antioxidant Content of Alternatives to Refined Sugar, 2009, pgs 64-71).
Well, that conclusion is what I saw in one media report with the headline “is sugar the newest antioxidant?”
The researchers compared the antioxidant content of unrefined sweeteners as alternatives to refined sugar.
Unrefined: raw cane sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses, honey, and fruit sugars like date paste.
Refined: refined sugar (think white table sugar) and corn syrup
In the US, the average intake of added sugars is 130 g/day (or about 31 teaspoons per day).
Using that average intake (130 grams) as the “baseline” measurement, the researchers ranked the sweeteners below from highest to lowest levels of antioxidants:
1. Blackstrap molasses (highest)
2. Molasses, dark
3. Date sugar
4. Barley malt syrup
5. Brown sugar, dark
6. 100% Maple syrup
7. Brown sugar, light
8. Brown rice syrup
10. Raw cane sugar
11. Agave nectar
12. White, refined table sugar (lowest)
Take home points: When eating sugar, substitute those that are higher in antioxidants when possible.
But of course the less of ALL sugars, the better.
Of course no sugar is a HEALTHY option or meant to replace other high antioxidant foods, like fruits.
Read more about the dangers of added sugar
And these 3 pieces discuss artificial sweeteners