Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sugar: Some Education

There is no appreciable difference between sucrose, glucose and fructose on satiety, uric acid, and food intake at a subsequent meal. I try and tell people this. If you do not want to pick up a text book, read this article or read Maria Lorraine's comment on this question.

In my chocolates and confections at Life by Chocolate, we use organic vegan sugar, sucrose, to sweeten the chocolate and honey, agave nectar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for other reasons. Or sometimes, we'll also invert sucrose as needed with a doctor. The use of glucose is universal in candy making unless you are making diabetic candies.

As an aside, I used to use glucose made from wheat but with the rise of people suffering from celiac disease, I switched to high fructose corn syrup and agave syrup.

I have these conversations all the time. "We don't eat sugar. We only use Agave Syrup." And I try to explain to people that agave syrup IS sugar. It's all basically the same, the major difference is you need sucrase for the hydrolysis of the disaccharide sucrose while honey, HFCS and agave syrup (agave nectar) are made up of monosaccharides. The major difference between honey and HFCS and agave nectar are that the first one is made by bees and the other ones are man made. Yes, you heard me. Both agave syrup and corn syrup is processed, that is, man made.

Now, if people want to be smart about this here is the reason you should not eat HFCS. Most corn is genetically modified. It is the second most genetically modified crop after soy beans. This at least is a semi-intelligent argument. However, since we've been breeding, domesticating and genetically modifying our plants and animals for thousands of years, most plants are genetically modified one way or another, hence the semi. But, hey, you have to draw the line somewhere and thus my experiments with agave.

For vegans, here are the things you should be thinking about. Much of the non-organic cane sugar is whitened with bone char. The organic cane sugar we use is certified vegan, that is, no bone char and it is naturally milled. And since vegans don't eat honey, HFCS or agave nectar is a good substitute. See above for why I don't use HFCS in any of my vegan products. (Also, the agave syrup I buy is organic and it is very hard to find organic HFCS.) One can only hope that the agave that is used to make the syrup is not a GMO. And remember, organic evaporated cane juice is the same thing as organic sugar. It's all sucrose.

Honey, HFCS and agave nectar are basically the same chemically. If you get a high-fructose honey, tupelo, and a high-fructose corn syrup it's pretty much the same as agave nectar. Agave nectar isn't necessarily high fructose and therefore lower on the glycemic index. So, whatever treachery you may believe the corn industry is pulling, the honey and the agave nectar people are pretty much doing the same thing. Furthermore, agave nectar is not raw. Honey can be raw but HFCS and agave nectar are heavily processed and cooked.

And remember, without sugar, you're dead. The only reason high fructose products are low on the glycemic index is because the glycemic index only measures glucose. But eventually, fructose gets converted into glucose. So, if you are diabetic, you can't eat agave syrup just as you can't eat sucrose, HFCS or honey. If your doctor says stay away from sugar, then stay away from agave syrup as well. And if you're really worried about the glycemic index, stay away from baked potatoes, too. They are higher on the glycemic index than table sugar, white sucrose.

Sorry. One day, I'll make something with Splenda or Stevia. Whew. There, I feel better. Enjoy our chocolates in a reasonable manner and remember, don't eat chocolate and operate heavy machinery. ;-) I hope this has helped clarify sugar for you. Sugar, I love it, especially in my chocolate but only in the right proportions. Yum. That's the secret, by the way, proportion.

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