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Glycemic Index: Where Do Sweeteners Fall?

If you don't know much about the glycemic index (GI), it could be affecting your health. The GI ranks specific carbohydrates from zero to 100, based on how they affect your blood sugar levels after eating them. Typically, eating foods that have a high GI (such as white bread and soda) causes a spike in blood sugar levels. When you consume these foods, you may feel a surge of get-up-and-go at first, but will have an energy crash soon afterward. High GI foods have also been linked to an increased risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, acne, Alzheimer's, and weight gain. Foods that are low on the GI have been associated with feeling full, which can prevent you from overeating.

Sweeteners are a type of carbohydrate that are tough to avoid since many people crave sweet foods such as chocolate, cookies, candy, and ice cream. All these treats are made with different types of sweeteners, so when cooking or choosing foods, it's good to know how they compare. To see where different types of sweeteners fall on the glycemic scale,


Sweetener GI
Glucose 96
Fructose 22
Lactose 46
Sucrose (white sugar) 64
Brown sugar 64
Barley malt syrup 42
Brown rice syrup 25
Raw honey 30
Agave syrup 15
High fructose corn syrup 62
Stevia less than 1
Sugar cane juice 43
Evaporated cane juice 55
Maple syrup 54
Black strap molasses 55

Sweeteners don't need to be completely avoided, though, since both the type of food and the amount you consume affect your body's glycemic response. If you know you're the kind of person who can't eat just one homemade cookie, then you may want to make them with agave syrup instead of white sugar.


cowelltraining cowelltraining 8 years
This is very informative. Some of these I was completely unaware of. I am an Agave User and it looks good on your list. Do you feel it makes a difference if the sweetener that you use is a whole food as opposed to refined? What about if you mix the sweetened with another food? Does that reduce its net effect within the body?
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Good to know.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I don't put a lot of faith in the GI system. It's only really accurate when you eat foods on their own because when you combine foods together, the GI changes significantly. So while putting honey in your tea would give you it's proper GI, putting it on your oatmeal would change its GI value quite a bit.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
I was just googling glycemic food half an hour ago! BTW found no user friendly info.
morninghurts morninghurts 8 years
^^^ I should said, you should aim for no more than 100 per day rather than trying to reach that number.
morninghurts morninghurts 8 years
This is the Glycemic Index though. That means that the numbers are if you had 100 grams of that sweetener. I'm guessing that the amounts of sweetener put in different foods would make the list different if you looked at the Glycemic Load. Like for HFCS, it might be lower than you expect but the amount of it put in foods is what makes it worse. At least that's my understanding. Another thing I think is interesting... Wasn't there an article on here yesterday about the difference between glucose and fructose? It basically said how glucose is much healthier for you (it was a Dr. Sugar article if you look for it). And then you look at this list and see the Glycemic Index for it is the highest which I think can be misleading. Once again, it's the Glycemic Load that you should really be worried about. I've read that you want to aim for a total Glycmic Load of 100 grams per day. Hope some of that made sense.
ImJessica ImJessica 8 years
I'm surprised to see that white/brown sugar is higher than HFCS. Interesting.
gothamgal gothamgal 8 years
I had no idea of these. I'm going to try the lower GI alternatives.
kia kia 8 years
I can't eat sugar cane or sugar cane derivatives and am all over natural alternative sweeteners. Next up I want to try yacon syrup, from what I read it seems like it will go well when making granola.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
I just tried agave nectar this past weekend, it was delicious!
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
I use agave syrup instead of honey so...good. I don't add sweetners to anything else though...not food, not hot drinks.
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