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Sweet Choices


If you’re concerned about diabetes or the quality of the sugars in your diet, this article will help – we will explain all sugars, the good, bad and the ugly. You see, the impact of sugars on our bodies depends on the degree of processing and a sweetener’s glycemic index.


When gauging the effect of sweets there are two factors to determine how safe a sugar is to ingest: is it a natural sugar or processed from its original form? And where does this sugar rank on the glycemic index chart? The biggest myths seem to center around high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), so we’ll tackle that one first.


High fructose syrup is nearly identical in composition to table sugar – both contain approximately 50% fructose. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup have the same number of calories as most carbohydrates and both have 4 calories per gram. Because they are nearly equivalent, the human body cannot tell the difference when consumed. Sugar itself is composed of 50% fructose and 50% glucose, and the syrup has either 42% or 55% fructose.


Second on my list is honey; and there is a difference between natural honey and artificial honey. In patients with type 2 diabetes, natural honey caused a significantly lower rise in blood sugar than either dextrose or sucrose (refined sugars). So enjoy a little honey in your morning coffee or afternoon cup of green tea.


Natural or pure honey is made from raw honey and rather pricey. Adulterated honey contains natural honey but with other added ingredients. Artificial honey is not honey at all, but made of syrup from sugar or corn, additives and food coloring to imitate the real stuff. Pure honey is a good sugar, adulterated or artificial honey is a bad sugar.


Eating large amounts of sugar adds extra calories causing weight gain. So many opt for artificial sweeteners – also referred to as sugar substitutes or low-calorie sweeteners – as a way to enjoy their favorite foods without as many calories. Good… or bad?


Let’s first consider products made with artificial sweeteners because their labels show a lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Some foods labeled “sugar-free” such as sugar-free cookies and chocolates may contain sweeteners, such as sorbitol or mannitol, which contain calories and can affect your blood sugar levels. Some sugar-free products may also contain flour, which will raise blood sugar levels. Also remember, foods containing sugar substitutes may also contain calories that may undermine your ability to lose weight and control your blood sugar.


These explanations on good sugars, bad sugars will show you the right choices when buying prepared foods, or packages that opt for the low cal number on their box by using artificial sweeteners. Just keep in mind your glycemic index when your sweet tooth is pulling you towards an afternoon treat. We all have to be self-educated in today’s marketplace.


Esther Smith, author

Smith is drawn to healthy nutrition and a healthy, active body. More of these articles will be published but for more about glycemic index foods, check out=>

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