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Sugar – The Newest Antioxidant on the Block?

“…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?” 

We’ve talked about how sugar makes you gain ugly belly fat.  And recently we talked about artificial sweeteners.  But maybe there’s an update — let’s look at this study to get the truth.

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
9.    Honey
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

Are artificial sweeteners healthier than real sugar?

Is stevia a healthy alternative to sugar?

Is sucralose a healthy alternative to sugar?

 

One Response to Sugar – The Newest Antioxidant on the Block?

  1. Jennifer January 30, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Should have know that my mother knew what was best for us kids when she added Black Molasses to our baked beans. Nice to know I had such a smart mother! She has always been trying to make healthier food for us for years. Thanks for you article and new formated e-mails.
    Jennifer

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