by Marion Nestle
Mar 7 2016

Sugar: in Australia, it’s “Better for You”

At my lecture at the University of Sydney last week, a member of the audience presented me with a 750-gram package of Low GI [Glycemic Index] cane sugar, labeled “Better for you.”

This product is sugar.  Its ingredient list says “pure cane sugar.”

The label also says:

  • 100% Natural
  • Longer Lasting Energy

The Glycemic Index (GI) refers to the comparative ability of 50 grams of a food to raise blood glucose levels.  The standard is pure glucose, which has a  GI of 100.

This sugar has a GI of 50.  Hence: “Low GI.”

Of course it does.  Cane sugar is sucrose: 50% glucose, 50% fructose.  It’s half fructose, which is absorbed more slowly and has a much lower GI.

The CSR website says:

CSR LoGiCane™ uses world first technology to develop a sugar with a naturally Low Glycemic Index (GI). It works by spraying an all natural molasses extract onto raw sugar. This molasses naturally increases sugar’s resistance to digestion. By having a low GI, CSR LoGiCane™ takes longer to be digested, resulting in a slower release of energy, which can help curb hunger cravings. CSR LoGiCane™ represents innovation in sugar – the same sweet tasting natural sugar, with the added benefit of carrying the official Low GI symbol and a Low GI rating of just 50.

No, I am not making this up.

I can’t imagine that the difference in speed of absorption of cane sugar and of sprayed cane sugar is measurable, let alone meaningful.

And what about the fructose?  Fructose is the source of much concern about the effects of excessive intake on liver and heart function, so much that Dr. Robert Lustig considers it a “poison.”

This particular brand of sugar carries a certification seal from the Glycemic Index Foundation, whose motto is “making healthy choices easy.”  It is supported by the University of Sydney and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The Foundation generates income by licensing the low GI Symbol to manufacturers of healthier low GI foods.

Is “low GI” cane sugar healthier than cane sugar?   The mind boggles.

The World Health Organization recommends that added sugars of any kind comprise no more than 10% of calories, with 5% being even better.  for many people, this translates to eating less sugar of any kind.  Good advice.