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-: white table sugar, white icing sugar, brown sugar, stevia :-

Somewhat confusingly brown sugars are not the same as the traditional whole cane sugars listed above. This is yet another case when the everyday cook needs to be alert to the modern, marketing con.

Most commercially available brown sugars have been refined through centrifugal force where by the so-called “impurities” of the plant have been separated in order to produce pure sucrose. The manufacturer then mixes, to varying degrees, some of the molasses back into the mix. Although the colour remains in tact much of the flavour and nutritional benefits are lost. Quite an absurd business practice but one that still persists.

This can make it a minefield when shopping for traditional whole cane sugars compared to refined brown sugars. Many of the largest sugar manufacturers are shy about whether their brown sugars are made using centrifugal force rather than evaporation.

White granulated, castor or icing sugar.

Deriving from either sugar cane or sugar beets – who cares? It’s the same chemical make-up – pure sucrose. Best avoided.

Refined, white Stevia Sugar

The stevia plant is traditional to South America. The white powdered stevia sugar most definitely is not. Populations in Paraguay and Brazil pick the plant and chew the leaves to enjoy the natural sweetness and have done so for thousands of years. Stevia leaves can taste quite pleasant dried and sprinkled over some foods.

White stevia sugar sold in health food shops, on the other hand, is not a natural sugar nor is a traditional sugar. It is just another industrial sugar. The stevia plant is refined to extract certain chemical compounds of the plant. The bitter after-taste should not be dismissed and is probably an indication that all is not as it seems with refined stevia sugars. Coca-Cola holds a patent to one of the chemical compounds found in the stevia plant called “Rebaudioside A”.

They are clearly hoping to use it as an alternative to isoglucose for their drinks in light of the bad publicity this industrial sugar has been generating in recent years. The “Truvia” brand was jointly developed by Coca-Cola and Cargill and is marketed as a “natural” sweetener. It has only been on the market for the past five years or so it is, as yet, impossible to tell what health implications this new industrial sugar will have on the human body. Like isoglucose and all other new, patented sugars the exact long-term health effects of this sugar is unknown and is therefore not recommended for use in any of the dishes prepared by the everyday cook.

Crystalline Fructose

Pure fructose derived from starches. Added to soft drinks and sports drinks. Got the go ahead from the EU recently to state that it is healthier than sucrose (white table sugar) since it has a lower glycaemic index. Avoid. This level of pure fructose is going to turn you fat very quickly.

Aspartame, saccharine and all other artificial sweeteners.

They taste odd. Are artificial. Non-traditional. All patented. Need more be said? Avoid.

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