While it seems intuitive that more "natural" sweeteners, like organic tapioca syrup, would offer a healthier alternative to normal sugar, that's not necessarily the case. Both options are loaded with calories and sugar but offer very little nutritional value. If you choose organic tapioca syrup, though, you may avoid the pesticides and herbicides used in conventional farming.(Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
Basic Nutrition Information
Neither organic tapioca syrup nor sugar should make up a significant part of your diet due to their high calorie content. One-quarter cup of commercially available tapioca syrup has 168 calories, while an equivalent serving of regular granulated sugar has 194. Both sweeteners get virtually all their calories from sugar, and tapioca syrup and sugar contain 42 and 50 grams of sugar per serving, respectively. Neither food has a significant amount of protein, fat or essential vitamins or minerals.
Drawbacks of Added Sugar
If you're regularly sweetening your meals with organic tapioca syrup, thinking it's healthier than sugar, it's time to scale back. Your total added sugar intake – which includes sweeteners you add to foods, as well as added sugar already found in processed and packaged foods – should not exceed 9 teaspoons for men daily and 6 for women. People who eat more added sugar face a higher risk of obesity and heart disease, and those who consume sugar-sweetened beverages have a greater risk of type-2 diabetes.
Is Organic a Benefit?
The methods used to grow organic tapioca syrup mean it may offer some advantages over sugar that's been conventionally grown and processed. Conventional farming methods make use of pesticides and herbicides that can negatively affect your health. Atrazine, a pesticide used on sugarcane crops in the United States, might affect reproductive health and has triggered heart, liver and kidney damage in animal tests. Tapioca isn't typically grown using many pesticides, but choosing a syrup that's certified organic ensures you're limiting your pesticide exposure.
Cut down on the use of added sugar in your cooking, regardless of the type, by using whole foods to add natural sweetness. Ditch oatmeal sweetened with brown sugar, and instead top your bowl with fresh berries or sliced banana for flavor. Use mashed bananas or unsweetened apple sauce to add natural sweetness to baked goods.REFERENCES & RESOURCES Barry Farm Foods: Tapioca Syrup From Barry Farm Foods USDA National Nutrient Database: Sugars, Granulated Harvard School of Public Health: Added Sugar in the Diet Purdue University: Cassava University of Florida: Sugarcane Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Public Health Statement for Atrazine