Corn syrup, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, is a popular sweetener manufacturers use in a variety of foods and beverages. Yet eating foods and drinking beverages that contain high-fructose corn syrup can increase your health risks, including weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Several alternative sweeteners to corn syrup have less health risks and may provide certain health benefits. Consult your doctor about healthy replacements for corn syrup in your diet.
Honey is a popular sweetener that may be healthier to consume than high-fructose corn syrup. Research by scientists at Mashhad University of Medical Science in Iran published in “The Scientific World Journal” in 2008 found that consumption of natural honey does not increase body weight in overweight or obese individuals and reduces cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol. The results of the research demonstrate that honey reduces body weight by 1.3 percent, body fat by 1.1 percent, cholesterol by 3.3 percent and LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, by 4.3 percent.
Molasses has a thick, syrupy composition with a bittersweet taste and is a by-product from refining sugar from sugarcane. Molasses, especially blackstrap molasses, is a food containing many nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, compared with high-fructose corn syrup which contains primarily the sugars glucose and fructose. One tbsp. of molasses contains approximately 58 calories, 11 g of sugar that is comprised of sucrose, glucose and fructose, 41 mg of calcium, 48 mg of magnesium, 293 mg of potassium, 2.7 mg of choline, 0.2 mg of niacin and 0.1 mg of vitamin B-6.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener derived from maple tree sap. Like molasses, maple syrup contains minerals and vitamins in addition to sugars. However, many of these nutrients in maple syrup are less concentrated than in molasses. Nonetheless, maple syrup is still more nutritious than high-fructose corn syrup. Maple syrup is a good source of manganese. A 1-tbsp. serving of maple syrup supplies almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of manganese, a trace mineral that helps your body produce bones, connective tissue and sex hormones and plays a vital role in metabolizing carbohydrates and fats, absorbing calcium and regulating blood sugar. Canadian maple syrup also contains antioxidants called polyphenols. Research by scientists at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston and published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” in November 2010 discovered 23 phenolic compounds in Canadian maple syrup.
Coconut and derivatives of coconuts, such as oil and sugar, are popular among consumers of health food products. Coconut sugar, also called coconut nectar sugar or coconut palm sugar, is made from the sugary sap of palm trees, such as the coconut palm, Palmyra palm, date palm or sugar date palm. Compared with high-fructose corn syrup which has a high glycemic index of 87, coconut sugar has a low glycemic index of 35, making it a superior sweetener in helping you to control your blood sugar.