Sugar- The (not so) Sweet Lowdown

        I walked into a homey-looking coffee-shop on the upper east side, reminiscent of how coffee-shops looks in Portland, OR- and they have hemp milk! One of my favorites! I ordered my coffee, turned to the table of add-in’s, and saw three plastic stacked shelves of different sugars. The “real” shelf had raw sugar, the “fake” shelf had splenda, and the “refined” shelf had dominos. Brilliant! Within seconds, you receive a succinct education about the sugar you may choose.

         Endless amounts of research has been dedicated to how to choose sugar, when they have similar effects in the body, but not all are processed the same. Sugar has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, memory problems, Alzheimer’s (aka Diabetes Type 3), poor oral health, poor liver health, cancer, and is a major contributor to obesity. Sugar also acts like a drug as it triggers dopamine and serotonin release, two neurotransmitters that are responsible for positive emotions and feeling reward during food consumption. Do you crave sugar? If you’re female, do you crave sugar around your menses? Continue mindless sugar consumption?

     It’s not easy to cut back when we potentially have physiology giving
                                                     us the finger.

         Despite these negative connotations, we sweeten nearly everything we consume, or believe that gluten free/ dairy free/ ingredient free (kidding) food is better. While you may avoid allergens, it can have just as much sugar as the non-allergen friendly version (e.g. think anything that ends in –ose, corn syrup). 
Like the bins at the coffeeshop, here is your simple guide to choosing some of the more common sugars:
UNHEALTHY sweeteners
         ~nutrasweet, equal, found in diet soda
         ~toxic to brain cells, formaldehyde as byproduct
         ~notorious for fat gain
         ~much more fructose than HFCS (linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.) 
         ~fructose bypasses an important step in our biochemistry that lets us know we've eaten
            something- so we get more sugar without realization. Your brain doesn’t understand
            it just had sugar due to how it enters your biochemical cycle
-Raw sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
         ~boiled less than regular sugar, but trace amounts of nutrients researched did not show
           benefit for humans

         ~more expensive than regular sugar (marketing at it's finest!)
         ~aka splenda; hard to break down in body
         ~perpetual fat storage mode
Healthier alternatives
         ~raw is most nutritious, many amino acids (crucial role in our biological functions)
         ~noted for antibacterial properties
         ~may improve sleep & allergies 
-Real maple syrup
         ~may prevent inflammation
         ~antioxidant; contains zinc, which helps improve your immune system
         ~strong flavor; high in many vitamins & minerals
         ~better alternative for Type 2 diabetics
-Coconut sugar
         ~high in antioxidants & amino acids, as well as iron, calcium & zinc
         ~also good for Type 2 diabetics
         ~may prevent cavities & ear infections, improve bone density, and slow candida growth
         *harmful for dogs, so keep away from pets!!