If it wasn’t for the sweet molecule, glucose, we humans wouldn’t be alive! Our bodies make glucose out of the foods we eat so consuming those sweet foods in moderation is manageable for the body.
However, sweet foods like sugar, agave, honey, and maple syrup are not strictly made up of glucose.
- Sugar is equal amounts of glucose and fructose. We call this one to one ratio – sucrose.
- Maple Syrup is mostly sucrose and water.
- Honey has less sucrose than sugar but a higher fructose to glucose ratio. (This makes honey sweeter than sugar.)
- Agave is a mind blowing 85% fructose! (Let’s leave agave to ferment itself into tequila!)
Fructose, as we know, is not our friend. Often honey and agave are celebrated for having a lower glycemic index but their higher fructose content only means a less than ideal delayed rise in blood sugar. Though, honey has a higher ratio of fructose to glucose, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. Compared to sugar, honey has a higher vitamin content while maple syrup has a higher mineral content. Fortunately, honey is sweeter and maple syrup’s flavour is stronger so we tend to use less of these than sugar.
Here’s the bottom line:
We shouldn’t depend on honey or maple syrup to meet our nutrient intakes of vitamins and mineral nor should we use a ton of any sweetener due to their effects on increased risk of obesity and metabolic disease. If you are wishing to sweeten foods like Greek yogurt, homemade vinaigrette, oatmeal or granola, go ahead and use a sensible amount of honey or maple syrup – but use it because of the flavour NOT for its whole food properties.
On the other hand, if you are baking and know the other ingredients will mask the flavours of the honey or maple syrup, try this trick:
Use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to corn syrup (NOT HFCS!!! but Karo or Great Value Golden Corn Syrup) instead of using straight sugar. You will reduce the fructose by 30%, make your baked goods a little less ‘addictive’, make it cheaper than using honey or maple syrup and improve the texture by using the corn syrup!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!