In my quest to research all I can about sugar and use alternative, "healthy" sweeteners, I have come across a lot of variables having to do with health. One example is honey. It is natural. I eat it non-pasteurized so that it still contains active enzymes/bacteria that have proven health benefits. (The downside with non-pasteurized honey is that it crystallizes sitting on the shelf, but can be heated to liquefy it again.) However, I did some research this morning and found that honey has a high glycemic index--(which, as a reminder, "the glycemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers—the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response," courtesy of http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm).
Certain organizations promote honey as only having a glycemic index (GI) of 5o, which is considered low. Others have found that honey is about as bad as white refined sugar in this respect, with a GI of 83, which is high. Here is an interesting piece of research I found: http://www.mendosa.com/diabetes_update_22.htm. Scroll down to where it says, "Is Honey Really Low Glycemic?" There are some great leads to research that has been done on this. My concern is that I have found honey to be a great alternative to white refined sugar, but if it causes my blood sugar to sky-rocket, is it really a healthy alternative to sugar?
If you would like to see the USDA's breakdown of nutrients/types of sugars in honey, go here: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.pl. It is fascinating! I had no idea that honey contained sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose and galactose!
Also, I looked up a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, which concludes, "...there is often no difference in responses [blood sugar responses] between foods containing added sugars and those containing naturally-occurring sugars," http://journals.cambridge.org/action/quickSearch#.
Is my plight in vain? Am I cheating myself of the benefits of a "sugar-free" diet if I continue to eat other kinds of sweeteners that aren't much healthier? Part of my goal was to see how easy/hard it is to achieve eating food without refined sugars in them. I have found that most packaged foods contain sugar and that it is very difficult to be sugar-free in an uncontrolled food environment like a restaurant, cafe, someone else's house, group function, etc. My hang-up at the moment is do I cut out other sweeteners that are practically as bad as white sugar? I wonder how I would feel if I only ate fruit and vegetable sugars and not honey or maple syrup or other sugar substitutes? Could I go without the desserts that those sweeteners have allowed me so far? I have to think about it. I could really use suggestions/comments at this point! Help!