Refined sugar is one of the worst and easiest foods to consume large amounts of. It's in everything and we've all accepted it as one of those staple items everyone needs to have in his or her kitchen. Indulging in the cocaine of sweeteners is not a "little sweet treat" for your body, it's a giant step backwards in overcoming an addiction to sweets. It will leave you lethargic and with an insatiable need to consume mass quantities of it to "cure" your symptoms. It's a vicious cycle. I know if I binge on the glistening, powdery crystals for too many days in a row, it infiltrates my system and takes shape in the form of dull, tired skin and spherical crimson splotches (zits).
Lately, with all the "corn sugar" hullabaloo and insightful food documentaries, there is a nice, healthy buzz regarding refined sugar. Its defenders will tell you, "sugar is sugar; your body doesn't know the difference." To which I say, NICE TRY!
(Nice choice of words, sugar dudes.)
To some extent this statement is true, but what they are neglecting to tell you is what refined sugar's prosecutors are really arguing:
it's not about what refined sugar is putting into your body, it's about what it's not putting into your body.
Long story short, when raw sugar cane, or any other whole food, goes through the arduous process of being "refined", all vitamins, minerals and even enzymes to help digest said food, are completely annihilated. We forget that these nutrients are the very items found within food that makes food...well...food. If you're forcing your body to digest something without any redeeming beneficial nutrients, you are putting a lot of unnecessary strain on your internal organs. You need these organs to function in other ways, instead of turning them into an assembly line to break down the junk we can't help rubbing over our taste buds. It's a strong word, but eating things that are nutritionally void is really a form of poison.
So, my point is this: if you feel the need for sweet, thank the good Lord above for fruit. It's sweet AND contains lots of things our body's need! If you're looking for an easy fix, natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are an excellent alternative to refined sugar and they can add an extra depth of flavor to your recipe.
Take honey, for instance. It is made up of fructose and glucose, just like table sugar. In table sugar, those two molecules are bonded together. In honey, they are separate. This means your body has to use it's own stash of nutrients to separate those molecules for the digestion of refined sugar, which leads to high cholesterol and obesity. Honey also retains it's original vitamins, minerals and nutrients.