Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

A place to get your questions answered from McDougall staff dietitian, Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.

Moderators: JeffN, Heather McDougall, carolve

Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby Bella » Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:43 am

I have read so much conflicting information on sweeteners that I have to ask! What is the BEST sweetener to be using?

Honey? Agave Nectar? Stevia? Molasses? Sucrant? Brown sugar? Is there some I didn't put here??? ;o)

I have absolutely no problems with blood sugar (mine is between 60-72 always) so I'm not overly concerned with insulin raises. I like all the sweeteners so changing isn't an issue either.

What I'd like to know is what would be THE healthiest for me to be using. Simply confused on what would be the healthiest.
Bella
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:14 pm

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby JeffN » Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:26 pm

Bella wrote:I have read so much conflicting information on sweeteners that I have to ask! What is the BEST sweetener to be using?

Honey? Agave Nectar? Stevia? Molasses? Sucrant? Brown sugar? Is there some I didn't put here??? ;o)

I have absolutely no problems with blood sugar (mine is between 60-72 always) so I'm not overly concerned with insulin raises. I like all the sweeteners so changing isn't an issue either.

What I'd like to know is what would be THE healthiest for me to be using. Simply confused on what would be the healthiest.


Hi Bella

Glad to hear your health is good.

I understand your confusion. Most of the confusion comes from the marketing and each one trying to gain a marketing advantage.

Right now, in the USA, added caloric sweetners make up over 20% of the average persons calories, which accounts for about 140 lbs per person per year. Since the mid 1800s, as a percent of calories, this has about doubled. Since 1970, as a absolute amount, on a per capita basis, it is up 19%.

This IS the main problem. Excess.

My main concern with the "caloric" sweeteners is not which specific one people choose to use but the amount. Now, based on personal preferences, philosophies (vegan), allergies, etc, which specific one you chose is up to you.

I know that Agave syrup is popular amongst vegans and often used to replace honey in recipes. It is also an effective sweetener for cold beverages such as it dissolves readily in cold liquids.

My general recommendation, which is in the talk I give at the McDougall Program is that refined calorie sweeteners should not make up more than 5% of your calories. On a 2000 calorie diet, that is 100 calories. Most of the caloric sweeteners are about 50 calories per TB (Agave is 60), so this equates to about 2 TB per day. Fruit juice concentrate is about 25 calories per TB, so it would be around 4 TB if that is your choice.

The only problem you may run into is that if you eat a lot of packaged foods, there is no known way to accurately know how much added sugars are in a product. So, the less refined caloric sweeteners you see in the ingredients and the further down the list they are, the better.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

Thank You!

Postby Bella » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:36 pm

This is very helpful! Thanks for such a quick response.
Bella
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:14 pm

Postby JeffN » Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:53 am

In regard to stevia, you are correct, it is processed, but not only is stevia processed, so is raw sugar.

However, at 6 tsps per week, I would not worry about it, no matter which one you are using.

Remember, the main problem in the USA for most people is not which one they use, but the amount they use.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby hatshepsut » Sun Feb 24, 2008 7:48 am

Thanks for addressing this topic. I'm new to this board, so forgive me if my questions have been covered before.

My husband is a cancer (colon and prostate) and heart disease survivor. While we've been vegetarians for about 20 years, we've adjusted our diet in the last two years to follow the Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Diet. From what I've read so far, Dr.McDougall's program is quite compatible with the Ornish approach and I'm enjoying (and learning from) this message board.

In the process of trying to adapt to a healthy (and healing) diet for my husband and for myself, I've read pretty much conflicting information about sugar intake. It seems pretty clear that one should reduce sugar intake. Beyond that, as this thread shows, there seems to be a good deal of disagreement about the wisdom of choosing one alternative sweetener over the other. I've read that cancer survivors, in particular, should reduce their sugar intake. If that is the case, are any of the sweetener alternatives preferable to others in terms of the way they are metabolized in the body?

Thank you.

Hatshepsut
hatshepsut
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:42 pm

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby JeffN » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:32 am

hatshepsut wrote:In the process of trying to adapt to a healthy (and healing) diet for my husband and for myself, I've read pretty much conflicting information about sugar intake. It seems pretty clear that one should reduce sugar intake. Beyond that, as this thread shows, there seems to be a good deal of disagreement about the wisdom of choosing one alternative sweetener over the other. I've read that cancer survivors, in particular, should reduce their sugar intake. If that is the case, are any of the sweetener alternatives preferable to others in terms of the way they are metabolized in the body?

Thank you.

Hatshepsut


Greetings.

Congratulations on your healthy choices and I wish you and your husband the best of health.

We have so much access to so much information today, thanks especially to the internet and technology, but separating the good information out is often difficult and challenging in todays world.

Most of the confusion you hear is really about (and from) the marketing and advertising information about these products (and their competitors), as each one tries to gain a competitive edge in the market. What makes this most difficult today, is this marketing and advertising is often cleverly disguised as "health information".

The main point, as you see, is to reduce the consumption of total sugars, regardless of the type.

My recommendation is that added caloric sugars should not be more than 5% of total calories, which equates to no more than about 2 TB/day or the equivalent of 100 calories/day. The problem is if you include packaged products, there is no clear way to determine the amount of added sugars. Therefore, my guidelines is to limit any packaged products with added sugars and for the ones you do use, the less added sugars in them the better. The best way to determine this is to read the ingredient list and the further down the ingredient list the sugars(s) is listed, the better.

Which one you choose, will matter little, if any, at that rate. There will be little benefit, or harm, from one to another at this level of consumption.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

sugars

Postby Kathy Fullmer » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:51 am

Well stated, Jeff. Sugar is sugar regardless of it's source, it metabolizes pretty much the same way, so why not buy the cheapest form of it, while carefully limiting the amount consumed. a limit of 2 tablesspoons/day is quite reasonable, especially if the fat and oil contentis kept low.
So thanks for helping us sort through all the info to get to the facts and to some reasonable choices with regard to sugar. Kathy
Bloom where planted
Kathy Fullmer
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:09 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: sugars

Postby JeffN » Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:09 am

Kathy Fullmer wrote:Well stated, Jeff. Sugar is sugar regardless of it's source, it metabolizes pretty much the same way, so why not buy the cheapest form of it, while carefully limiting the amount consumed. a limit of 2 tablesspoons/day is quite reasonable, especially if the fat and oil contentis kept low.
So thanks for helping us sort through all the info to get to the facts and to some reasonable choices with regard to sugar. Kathy


Kathy

Thank you.

The flow of misinformation and marketing and advertising that is being cleverly disguised as health information has many people worrying about things they do not need to worry about, and not worrying about things they really need to worry about.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

Postby Kathy Fullmer » Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:23 am

Yes, we should be focusing on vegetables fruits and grains as dietary sources. I still have to really pay attention to green vegetables or we would be eating all grains! Of course I exagerate somewhat. Even though a huge green salad is our favorite dish these days it takes determination to keep it at the frequent center of our day's eating. Kathy
Bloom where planted
Kathy Fullmer
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:09 pm
Location: Missouri

JeffN...

Postby Chrmann » Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:39 pm

Since Stevia comes from the leaves, is it high in Vitamin K. Could someone on Coumaden or Warfarin use this product??

My husband is on Coumaden and he has just found out he has diabetes.

So, do you think I should use Stevia or Agave Nectar instead of sugar, for him? He eats the SAD diet and will not even consider eating any other way. He thinks I eat unhealthy because I do not eat meat or any products from animals (dairy, eggs, etc).
User avatar
Chrmann
 
Posts: 380
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:49 pm
Location: Alabama

Postby susie » Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:50 pm

Kathy I find that eating greens since switching from ETL to McDougalling pretty non existant. Now I know the Dr McDougall recommends greens too. It is just nice not having to eat so many.

I shall have to keep a diary that makes me focus more on greens.
User avatar
susie
 
Posts: 719
Joined: Fri May 18, 2007 7:52 pm
Location: Tasmania, Australia

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby CHEF AJ » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:01 am

JeffN

My general recommendation, which is in the talk I give at the McDougall Program is that refined calorie sweeteners should not make up more than 5% of your calories.


What about unrefined Whole Food sweeteners such as dates? How do you feel about them and what % of calories can they make up?

Thank You,
Chef AJ
Love & Kale,
Chef AJ
www.EatUnprocessed.com
www.HealthyTasteOnline.com
CHEF AJ
 
Posts: 889
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:57 pm

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby JeffN » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:31 am

CHEF AJ wrote:What about unrefined Whole Food sweeteners such as dates? How do you feel about them and what % of calories can they make up?

Thank You,
Chef AJ


Greetings,

As I mentioned above, in general, I use a </= 5% of calories, which equates to about 100 calories (which is about 2 TB or about 32 grams) for a 2000 Calorie diet.

However, the problem with this recommendation is that it is difficult to apply in the real world for most people, unless they consume a diet that has no packaged products or food products that have added sugars in them.

If someone was to consume nothing but fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, legumes, intact whole grains as grown in nature, then they know that these foods have no added sugars or hidden sugars, and you could apply the guidelines. They could easily know how much sugar they are adding as any and all of it would be coming from them.

However, if someone is consuming any packaged products that have any added sugars, then they can no longer apply the guideline as packaged products do not distinguish between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars and only give a number for total sugars.

It gets complicated. :)

In Health
Jeff
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby CHEF AJ » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:41 am

If someone was to consume nothing but fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, legumes, intact whole grains as grown in nature, then they know that these foods have no added sugars or hidden sugars, and you could apply the guidelines. They could easily know how much sugar they are adding as any and all of it would be coming from them.


Well, I am one of these weirdos that eats absolutely no processed food. The only exception is salt=-ee beans from a can. I follow Jack La Lanne's Nutritional Advice "if God Made It Eat It, If Man Made It Don't Eat It". (I have also been eating a plant based diet for over 32 years). So my question is, where do you stand on whole dates? Do you still consider them a sugar to be limited to 100 calories per day, or a whole food? Also, where do you stand on nuts, seeds and avocado if someone is eating a plant perfect diet and has no medical problems?

Love & Kale,
Chef AJ
Love & Kale,
Chef AJ
www.EatUnprocessed.com
www.HealthyTasteOnline.com
CHEF AJ
 
Posts: 889
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:57 pm

Re: Honey, Agave, Stevia, Sugar, Etc.

Postby JeffN » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:25 pm

CHEF AJ wrote:Well, I am one of these weirdos that eats absolutely no processed food. The only exception is salt=-ee beans from a can. I follow Jack La Lanne's Nutritional Advice "if God Made It Eat It, If Man Made It Don't Eat It". (I have also been eating a plant based diet for over 32 years).


Right, but I thought your question was not just for you but also for those who we teach and work with who may not be following such optimal diets.

CHEF AJ wrote: So my question is, where do you stand on whole dates? Do you still consider them a sugar to be limited to 100 calories per day, or a whole food?


Dates are a dried fruit which makes them calorie dense and so not a food recommended in unlimited amounts or really at all for those with weight problems. It is important to understand the principles of calorie density, which I discuss here...

http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Articles/E ... ition.html

Also, once ground up by a blender, a date is no longer a whole food. Blending, especially a food high in sugar, can break down the fibers so they are not as effective and could potentially lead to some negative effects on TG's, blood sugar and insulin levels, especially if the person was insulin resistant.

Dates are also one of the few fruits fairly high in fructose, so that, along with their being fairly high in calorie density, would make it possible for someone to over consume them and for them to potentially have a negative effect (from the excess calories and/or excess sugar and/or excess fructose) if someone was IR so I would not recommend them in such a situation. One such study was discussed in these forums.

CHEF AJ wrote: Also, where do you stand on nuts, seeds and avocado if someone is eating a plant perfect diet and has no medical problems?
Chef AJ


In reality, I know and or have met few, if any people in almost 3 decades who either eat a perfect diet and/or have no health/medical issues.

However, even if such a person existed, my recommendations remain. Nuts, seeds and avocado's should be limited to no more than 1 or 2 servings per day at most, a few days a week. A serving is an ounce of nuts, or a half of a CA avocado.

The issue is calorie density and there are several great discussions on both calorie density and on nuts and seeds that are listed in the hot topic post above that you may find interesting and will help you gain a better understanding of these issues.

Calorie Density, Weight Loss, BMI, How Much To Eat
http://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6032
http://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6916

Nuts
http://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6067
http://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6678
http://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6129

In Health
Jeff
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

Next

Return to Jeff Novick, RD

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests



Welcome!

Sign up to receive our regular articles, recipes, and news about upcoming events.