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About The Siuslaw news. (Florence, Lane County, Or.) 1960-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 3, 2015)
SIUSLAW NEWS ❚ SATURDAY, JANUARY 3, 2015
J OEL F UHRMAN , MD
Are all sugar alternatives healthful?
Added sugars come in several
forms other than sugar, evaporat-
ed cane juice and high fructose
ers such as maple syrup, honey,
agave and coconut sugar are
marketed as “natural” and often
touted as healthier alternatives to
regular sugar. Is there any truth
to these claims?
Similar to sugar, these are
low-nutrient concentrated sweet-
eners; they add substantial calo-
ries to the diet while contributing
very little nutritional value.
Maple syrup and honey elevate
blood glucose similarly to sugar
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(sucrose), leading to disease-
causing effects in the body.
Agave and coconut sugar rank
lower on the glycemic index, but
are still empty calories and may
have other negative effects.
Repeated exposure to these
excessively sweet tastes dulls the
taste buds to the naturally sweet
tastes of berries and other fresh
fruits, which perpetuates crav-
ings for sweets and can under-
mine weight loss.
Since some natural sweeten-
ers undergo fewer processing
steps than sugar, they may retain
some phytochemicals from the
plants they originate from1, but
their nutrient-to-calorie ratio is
still very low, and they contain
minimal or no fiber to slow the
absorption of their sugars.
The negative health effects of
added sugar and high-fructose
corn syrup (HFCS) are well-doc-
umented, including increased
risk of weight gain, diabetes,
cardiovascular disease and can-
Agave nectar is marketed as a
low-glycemic sweetener, due to
its high fructose content (agave
is approximately 90 percent
fructose). Sucrose is half fruc-
tose and half glucose, made up
of one fructose molecule linked
to one glucose molecule. HFCS
contains 55 percent fructose and
42 percent glucose.
All sweeteners (and fruits)
contain some combination of
glucose, fructose, and the two
bound together as sucrose.
Maple syrup contains about
90 percent sucrose, so it is very
similar to regular white sugar.
Coconut sugar contains 70 to 80
percent sucrose, and honey con-
tains 49 percent fructose and 43
Fructose and glucose are bro-
ken down differently by the
body. When fructose is
absorbed, it is transported direct-
ly to the liver, where it is broken
down to produce energy.
Fructose itself does not stimulate
insulin secretion by the pan-
However, much of the fruc-
tose is actually metabolized and
converted into glucose in the
liver, so it does raise blood glu-
cose somewhat (although not as
much as sucrose or glucose).
Despite its low glycemic
index, added fructose in the form
of sweeteners still poses health
risks. Fructose stimulates fat
production by the liver, which
causes elevated blood triglyc-
erides, a predictor of heart dis-
Elevated triglycerides have
been reported in human studies
after consuming fructose-sweet-
ened drinks, and this effect was
heightened in the participants
who were insulin-resistant.
Fructose, when used as a
sweetener, also seems to have
effects on hunger and satiety
hormones that may lead to
increased calorie intake in subse-
When you ingest any caloric
sweetener, you get a mix of dis-
ease-promoting effects: the glu-
cose-elevating effects of added
glucose and the triglyceride-rais-
ing effects of added fructose.
Sweeteners, unlike whole
fruits, are concentrated sugars
without the necessary fiber to
regulate the entry of glucose into
the bloodstream and fructose to
All caloric sweeteners have
effects that promote weight gain,
diabetes and heart disease,
regardless of their ratio of glu-
cose to fructose, or what type of
plant they originate from.
Dr. Fuhrman is a New York
Times best-selling author and
board-certified family physician.
Visit his website DrFuhrman
.com, or submit questions and
comments to newsquestions@
I N BRIEF
Dems meet today
Florence Area Democratic
Club will meet today, Jan. 3, at
11 a.m., in the Siuslaw Public
Library’s Conference Room.
Guest will be Jessica Lloyd-
Rogers of KXCR Community
Radio. The meeting is open to
set for Monday
The Siuslaw Soil and Water
Conservation District will hold
its regularly scheduled board
meeting Monday, Jan. 5, at the
new district office, 1775 Laurel
Place, Suite No. 4, in Florence.
The meeting will begin at
6:30 p.m. For more informa-
tion, call the district office at
Port sets special
meeting for Thursday
The Port of Siuslaw Board
of Commissioners will hold a
special meeting on Thursday,
Jan. 8, at 9 a.m., at the port
office, 100 Harbor St.
This meeting is a work ses-
sion to review and discuss the
2013-18 Strategic Business
Plan. Port meetings are open to
the public. For more informa-
tion, call 541-997-3426.
to meet Friday
The January 2015 Coastal
Women Veterans will have its
monthly luncheon at the
Driftwood Shores, 88416 First
Ave., on Friday, Jan. 9, at 11:30
a.m. All military veterans are
invited to attend.
RSVP to Terri Pennington
at 541-999-2400, or email
Food co-op hosts
recycling Jan. 9-16
Recycle almost anything
that plugs in or runs on batter-
ies at the Real Food Co-op
between Friday, Jan. 9, and
Friday, Jan. 16. NextStep
Recycling in Eugene will place
a large box outside of the co-op
at 1379B Rhododendron Drive
for anyone to leave donations
of unwanted electronics.
for a complete list of items that
can be donated. For more
information, call Real Food
Co-op at 541-997-3396.
PFLAG to discuss
‘Hot Topics’ Jan. 13
PFLAG Florence presents
“Hot Topics” on Tuesday, Jan.
13, at the Fellowship Hall of
Florence United Methodist
Church, 333 Kingwood Ave.
The meeting begins at 6:30
p.m. The public is invited and
refreshments will be served.