How Sweet is Sweet? An Overview of Sweeteners

The helpful folks at UCSF’s Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST), whose experts are featured in UCTV Prime’s “The Skinny on Obesity” series, offer an overview of sweeteners to help you figure out what fits in your diet.

How Sweet is Sweet?

It all comes down to the amount of fructose you consume, not necessarily the type of sweetener it’s found in.

For example: A can of soda has 39 grams of high fructose corn-syrup (equivalent of 10 sugar cubes) at 42-65% fructose. But look at the chart below and notice that Agave syrup has even more fructose than high fructose corn syrup! Does that make HFCS better for you?

Well, it’s complicated. But really it comes down to the amount of sweetener you are consuming.  Since you use remarkably less Agave to sweeten your beverages or baked goods as you would compared to sugar or HFCS, you have decreased the amount of fructose you are consuming, even though it’s inherently high in fructose.

It’s all about proportion and amounts. So next time you sweeten, ask yourself, what is the quantity of sweetener and what is the “fructose load” of your sweetening choice? If your load is high, you want to consume items with low % fructose. If your load is low, having a sweetener that is higher in fructose may not make that much of a difference. (Interestingly, Brown Rice Syrup contains 0% fructose.)

 

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