It's a tough choice at the coffee shop milk station: do you go with the yellow or pink packet of artificial sweetener, knowing it will add zero calories but possibly contain harmful chemicals? Or the white packet of natural table sugar because it's, well, natural?
It's a debate nutrition and weight-loss enthusiasts regularly engage in, believe it or not. And while the stakes may not seem so high at the coffee shop, the choice between regular soda and diet starts to add up pretty quickly. Regular sugar is supposed to be more wholesome since it wasn't made in a lab, but there are so many health issues associated with sugar consumption, it's easy to understand why people are scared of the white stuff. Artificial sweetener, on the other hand, supposedly tricks your brain and influences the same metabolic responses as sugar. Plus, it's full of weird chemicals. But there are no calories!
So which one is the better option?
Natural sugar: what it means
Natural sugar goes way beyond traditional table sugar. There's sugar in the raw varieties, coconut sugar, agave nectar, honey, and the oft-demonized high-fructose corn syrup. Honey and molasses are often turned to instead of table sugar because of their natural properties, but they have the exact same glycemic index as sugar, according to gastroenterologist and obesity medicine specialist Dr. Nitin Kumar of the Bariatric Endoscopy Institute.