Even though many sweets, whether made from honey or molasses, fructose, sucrose, agave, cane sugar, beet sugar or high fructose corn syrup, may have the same number of calories per teaspoon, they do have differing properties.

Sweet in and of itself is not such a bad thing. We’re even genetically programmed to like sweet, and even more, to crave it. Most naturally sweet foods are also nourishing and satisfy the body with more than just the simple calories that they contain. For example, most naturally sweet fruits, such as mangoes, strawberries, cherimoya, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, oranges, dates and others contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other natural phytochemicals important for our health and well-being. Sweet vegetables, like beets and yams, are good sources of these nutrients as well. Whole grains, naturally sweet foods, contain B vitamins and fiber along with complex carbohydrates. Our bodies are used to being nourished and fed by more than just the sweet taste of sweet foods.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, sweet provides satisfaction and a feeling of being nourished for these very reasons. It’s why we often gravitate toward the sweet taste as a source of comfort. Interestingly, from an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s not only sugar that is sweet. Whole grains are sweet (they just may not seem that way to our palates used to the intense hit of simple sugars), and even healthy oils are considered to be sweet. Often, many of our nearest and dearest comfort foods are a combination of fat and sugar, and sometimes our sweet cravings are not just cravings for a hit of sugar, but for something more. Taking enough essential fatty acids (the omega 3-6-9 combos found in Udo’s, flax, hemp, evening primrose or other oils) can be literally essential for our well-being and deep nurturing.

When we get overly habituated to sweet by overeating simple sugars, highly processed sugars or even artificial sweeteners, then the healthy, natural, whole-food sweets may no longer taste as sweet. When we’ve grown accustomed to the intense sugar hit of a candy bar or a holiday dessert tray, then fruit may be bland, cereal or brown rice may be boring. And we’ve tricked our body. The sweet taste that is supposed to be a harbinger of vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients is now an empty promise with no delivery. This is why refined sugars are called empty calories. Sure, they provide energy, but they’re devoid of necessary substance. Calories alone are not enough.

One type of sweet that is so pervasive that it is almost invasive is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It can be found in numerous types of candy, cookies, crackers, soda pop, juice drinks, as well as processed foods including salad dressings, sauces and even breads. High fructose corn syrup is a highly processed form of liquid sugar derived from corn. It’s cheaper than table sugar (usually made from sugar cane or beets), largely due to corn subsidies and sugar tariffs. Depending on how it is processed, HFCS can taste even sweeter than sugar, which is part of the appeal in our society that just can’t seem to get enough of the sweet taste. From the perspective of calories, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), mentioned earlier, has the same number of calories as other forms of sugar. But the fact that it is so heavily processed means that those are empty calories with no nutrients. And HFCS, as its name implies, is a little different than table sugar, which is sucrose, a combination of glucose and fructose. HFCS is mostly fructose. These are not necessarily processed in the body in the same way.

Some sources suggest that overloading the body with fructose creates a bottleneck in the biochemical pathways in the liver important for dealing with sugars. Thus, a large intake of fructose or HFCS can lead to a buildup of triglycerides in the bloodstream. Triglycerides are a type of fat, so if you’re watching your blood lipids, or fats in the bloodstream, processed sugars can be a culprit. Some sources also link increasing levels of type 2 diabetes with increased intake of processed foods. Processed foods, processed sugars, and increased levels of lipids or fats also coexist with rising rates of obesity, which are occurring in alarming numbers in both children and adults.

Watching how much sugar we eat, particularly refined sugar, is an important factor in eating healthfully as the temptation to find satisfaction through overeating sweets can be particularly strong. Favoring whole foods, fruits, whole grains, homemade baked goods or fare from the farmers’ market or local bakeries, and reading labels are important practices to have a healthy relationship with sweet.

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.