PT Recipe: Sweet Talk

Sugar gets a reprieve, sort of. Here is sweet news about sugar.

By Rachel Mahan, published on November 1, 2008 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Once prized as a luxury worth its weight in gold, refined sugar is now demonized for an outsize contribution to body weight. But science has served some sweet news about sugar: Not all sugars are created equal metabolically. And some—take a deep breath—may actually benefit type-2 diabetics.

We not only have taste buds for sweetness, our bodies require sugar; glucose is the food of the brain. But fructose, concentrated from America's corn crop and poured into beverages and processed foods, takes a very fast track to become fat. The Journal of Nutrition reported that fructose is preferentially turned into fat in the liver, where the body makes a snap decision whether to burn incoming sugar as energy or store it as fat for later use. Once fructose enters the body's store-or-burn pathway, the machinery is difficult to shut down. Out pour triglycerides, raising blood fat levels and setting up the next meal to be turned into fat.

Some sugars, notably less-refined dark sugars, contain nutritional hotshots like antioxidants. What's more, they tend to be absorbed slowly in the gut, rendering them potentially helpful to diabetics trying to regulate blood-sugar levels.

Refined sugar remains a luxury for the human body. Sugar is best consumed in its least-refined forms—those bundles of fiber and vitamins called fruits and vegetables.

Types of sweeteners:

  • Sucrose (table sugar)

    Composition: 50% glucose, 50% fructose

    Antioxidant level: low

  • Sucrose (brown sugar)

    Composition: 50% glucose, 50% fructose

    Antioxidant level: high

  • High-fructose corn syrup

    Composition: Up to 80% fructose, 20% sucrose

    Antioxidant level: low

  • Maple syrup

    Composition: 89% sucrose, 11% glucose

    Antioxidant level: high

  • Fruits: Apple

    Composition: Fructose, glucose, sucrose 4:2:1

    Antioxidant level: very high

Recipe: Candied Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Total Time: 25 Minutes

When the apple crop is in, you will find a wide array of apple varieties even in your local supermarket. You can choose crisp, tart Granny Smiths for this, or any other firm apple.


  • 3 apples
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp. five-spice powder (optional)
  • 1½ Tbsp. maple syrup
  • ½ Tbsp. barley malt
  • ½ cup roasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • a pinch of salt


Quarter and core apples; cut each quarter into 3 to 4 slices. Place apples, cider, spices, and salt in 10-inch skillet. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer a few minutes until apples are barely tender. Over a large bowl, pour apple mixture through a colander; set apples aside. Pour cider back into skillet along with maple syrup and barley malt, and cook uncovered over high heat until reduced to ⅓ cup syrup. Place apple slices on plates and drizzle each plate with syrup. Garnish each plate with 2 tablespoons chopped pecans.