Q & A

Here is come common questions I get asked regularly. These are touching on sweetners & some popular food crazes at the momento!

~Maple syrup:
Pros: (grade B) is high in manganese and zinc, (good for immune), also contains B vitamins, vitamin A and biotin and has a GI of 54, it is derived form the sap of the maple tree, hence it is a pure/ natural form of sweetener. It has 54 antioxidants, some of the same class as berries. The sugars in maple syrup are mainly in the form of sucrose (a complex sugar) then glucose and fructose.

Cons: still contains glucose for those trying to avoid, it is 60%sucrose and it will impact blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Expert tip- Would I recommend it? One of my fav sweeteners! Its high mineral content and very low processing involved has me highly recommending it, also has a caramelly taste and I love that. Be aware of cheap ‘maple flavoured’ syrups.

~Rice malt syrup
Rice malt syrup is made by culturing rice with enzymes to breakdown the starches and then cooking until it becomes a syrup.

Pros: has no fructose closer to a whole food rather than sweetener, has a GI of around 25, contains small amount of B vits and some minerals

Cons: its still processed and is from a grain, also has been linked in the past to contain high levels of arsenic, here is the – study http://now.dartmouth.edu/2012/02/organic-food-sweetener-may-be-a-hidden-source-of-dietary-arsenic/. However when Pure Harvest was contacted in Australia (our popular brand) they stated that Australia & NZ have fairly strict guidelines and they regularly tested their crops. Comes down to personal preference.

Expert tip-Would I recommend it? Its not my preferred sweetener of choice, I suppose it comes down to the individual & if they would rather address the low GI, low fructose option or higher health benefits/ natural option. With its low levels of fructose, it’s a great alternative for those with fructose sensitivities and IBS symptoms.

~Raw organic honey:
Pros: is as natural as they come~ straight from the hive. Has an abundance of nutritional qualities- high in vit C, B6, folate, has anti-fungal/anti-bacterial/ anti-inflammatory anti-parasitic properties.

Cons: wild honey has lower fructose but still is about 80% fructose, the sugars found in honey are primarily in the form of fructose and then glucose/sucrose. A cup of honey containing 280g of carbs, 279g are from sugars and has approx 1031 calories.

Expert tip- Would I recommend it? Again it depends on the persons main concerns. Yes I would absolutely recommend having small amounts occasionally but to use on a daily basis and for those with any gut dysbiosis/candida etc I probably would avoid at that present time. Also, be aware of supermarket honeys that have been highly processed and treated, so all of the nutritional benefits are lost. If you can get your hands on some local honey that would be the best. It’s still a sugar, high in fructose and needs to be used in moderation.

~Coconut nectar syrup:
The sap of the coconut blossum is collected and used as a sweetener.

Pros: is highly nutritious with a huge mineral content of zinc, magnesium potassium, iron and lots of B vitamins. It produces slow release energy so we don’t get the sugar ‘highs and lows’. It has a GI of around 35, and in comparison to brown sugar, it has twice the iron, four times magnesium and over 10 times the amount of zinc. Its only 10% fructose so is relatively low for those avoiding.

Cons: still contains around 55 calories in 1TBS and is still a simple sugar use it in moderation.

Expert tip: Would I recommend it? Absolutely, its one of favourites. On a holistic scale it ticks a lot of the boxes, its low in fructose, high in vits & minerals, and is collected from the blossom nectar of the coconut tree. Coconut magic & loving earth are the most reputable!

~Medjool dates:
I love these little bunches of caramel, chewy goodness… especially frozen!!

Pros: High in polyphenols (powerful antioxidants), high in fibre (slowing down that sugar response), excellent source of iron and potassium along manganese copper, vitamins A, with B6, B3, B5 have a GI of around 55 (about same as a banana, medium on the GI scale)

Cons: the majority of these carbs come from sugar, with 1 pitted date containing around 66 calories, and 3 dates equal one serve of fruit, remember we aren’t meant to eat more than 2 pieces of fruit a day (well ideally we aren’t).

Expert tip: Would I recommend them?
Although dates are relatively high in the calorie compartment, they are a fresh, whole fruit and a healthy sugar substitute. The high fibre content can slow down that insulin response and they have an impressive list of vitamins and minerals.

I personally do not recommend agave, but some people are still on the agave bandwagon. Yes it doesn’t cause an insulin spike and is extremely low GI (due to its high fructose content) which is why companies can market it as low GI, however, it goes undetected in our bodies and we don’t have the “off” switch when we consume extraordinary amounts. If we eat a diet high in fructose, it is converted directly into fatty acids in the liver and then into our bloodstream, and then into fat cells.

Agave is also highly refined (yes even when claimed ‘raw’), it takes an extreme amount of processing to get a sweetener out of a cactus!

~Raw Cacao:
What is the difference between regular coco we see at the supermarket and raw cacao?

Expert tip: Would I recommend it? Yes, yes and yes! Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants from any food in the world, including catechins, epicatechins and polyphenols. Cacao is the richest source of the alkaline mineral magnesium, its high in iron, chromium, zinc, manganese, its even high in omega 6 fatty acids and tryptophan and tryptamine serotonin~ making us happy!!

Although the beans are generally from the same tree, cocoa has gone through extensive processing and heat to get to the end product, destroying the majority of beneficial nutrients that raw cacao has. Raw cacao hasn’t been heated or treated and therefore has all the remaining goodies.

*Raw cacao aids in weight-loss, promotes healthy skin, is high in antioxidants, is an aphrodisiac, assists with headaches, improves brain function, and is packed full of vitamins and minerals.

*Cocoa actually has low levels of cacao, is highly processed, has been heat refined, attributes to weight gain and will often be accompanied with hydrogenated fats, sugars, artificial flavours and other nasties.

Expert tip: Would I recommend it? Generally carob is an alternative to chocolate and is therefore found in similar formats~powder, nibs etc. Substituting cacao/cocoa with carob you eliminate the caffeine and theobromine content, both of these substances being stimulants. However-theobromine stimulates the cardiovascular system (and raw cacao has a very minimal source of caffeine) not the nervous system and can have many health benefits, such as dilating blood vessels, increasing urine output and helping out our hearts, it may also help asthma sufferers by dialting the bronchial tubes. But, in excess & sensitive people it may cause jitters etc.

Carob is lower in fat but higher in sugars compared to raw cacao, and it has quite a high calcium profile, where as cacao has more significant health benefits.