Tagged: glycemic index

The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener obtained from corn. Recently the corn industry has pushed to have high fructose corn syrup relabeled corn sugar. The attempts have failed and the attempt was made because people have a negative view of HFCS. And rightly so as HFCS can and does easily upset most people’s blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar becomes imbalanced we can feel irritable, lethargic, foggy, tired and unfocused. And in the long run this imbalance can lead to a host of health conditions such as diabetes. But there is another hidden danger to HFCS that most people are unaware of . . .

High Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

HFCS contains mercury at a rate of up to 0.570 micrograms per gram of syrup.*1  While the rate of 0.570 micrograms per gram may not seem like a lot. It is when you consider that most people consume 50 grams of HFCS a day. And, HFCS is ubiquitous, so you must read nutrition labels for everything because it is in foods you wouldn’t think. Now, you may be wondering why mercury is found in corn syrup. This is because in the processing of corn to HFCS mercury is involved. The threat of mercury toxicity is just one more reason to steer clear of this unhealthy sweetener. 

A Sweet Alternative to High Fructose Corn Syrup

Coconut Palm Flower Sugar

Delicately sweet,
with a hint of smoky caramel, this natural plant sugar is the perfect
substitute for white or brown sugar. Similar to the syrup tapped from
maple trees, coconut sugar begins by tapping the nectar from the
flower buds hanging from the heart of coconut trees. Palm sugar is traditionally hand-harvested in the canopy of Indonesian coconut groves where farmers have harvested the nectar from coconut palm trees for herbal medicine and food for centuries. Coconut sugar is unrefined and has a low glycemic index. 

Palm sugar is a healthy alternative sweetener
that has a lower glycemic index (GI35) than regular sugar (GI100).
Organic evaporated palm sugar is especially high potassium, magnesium
and zinc, as well as vitamins B2, B3 and B6. This palm sugar is
unbleached, unfiltered and free of preservatives.

This delicate
unique sweetener is mild and smooth and perfect for your morning cup
of tea or as a recipe substitute for ordinary sugar.  

Learn More

Visit some of our previous posts regarding the health impacts of sugar:

And, most corn is genetically modified! Read about the French study on GM corn fed to rats. Shocking!

Closing Thoughts

We feel it is important to understand the ramifications of our food choices on our health and on the health of the planet. Growing corn requires a vast amount of resources including a staggering amount of water, fertilizer and land. And, if corn was not subsidized by the government corn and corn products would be priced out of the market. Another harrowing fact is most corn is genetically modified, which is just another reason to stay away from corn and corn products. Be well be wise and make good food choice that sustain you and the planet.

This piece was written and compiled for Zebra Organics by Mark D’Aquila, flower essence practitioner, www.essencealchemy.com

Agave, Stevia and the Glycemic Index

Agave Nectar

Ah, Agave a sweet and tasty nectar straight from the fields of Mexico. We feature both dark and light fairly traded and organic agave in 12 ounces jars from Essential Living Foods.

Agave Nectar Dark, 12 fl oz glass bottle, Essential Living Foods

The Agave plant is a succulent that grows in the arid regions of Southern Mexico, where traditionally the nectar has been fermented to make Tequila. The un-fermented nectar makes a sweet, raw sugar substitute, that is suitable for most diets and widely enjoyed by those who use it.

Dark Agave is the perfect alternative to brown sugar or maple syrup, sweetening with 25% fewer calories. Sweetening your life with Agave is easy, as it is similar in sweetness to sugar yet it has a much lower glycemic index level. It is great in tea, coffee, smoothies and can be used deserts and drinks. Agave rates 30 on the Glycemic Index Scale.


The Glycemic index is a rating scale that measures the way carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels after being consumed. The index runs form 0 to 100, foods rated 55 or lower are considered to be low glycemic index foods. Foods from 56 to 69 are medium and from 69-100 are high glycemic index foods; white sugar and many processed junk foods fall into the high glycemic index category. There are many factors that determine how you react to sugars. So consider use this index as a reference guide because a variety of factors affect your blood sugar response.

In general foods with a lower glycemic index produce less of a blood sugar spike than foods with a higher glycemic index. So why is this important? With a large sugar load comes a spike and this large spike leads to a large crash and when this pattern becomes habit it can lead to a health crisis. But if we can avoid this by choosing foods that have a low glycemic load we can prevent the Spike/Crash/Crisis scenario. 

Out of balance blood sugar leads to a Yo Yo effect on your body’s glandular system particularly the pancreas and adrenals.  

Here’s how it goes: you consume sugar with a high glycemic load, your blood sugar spikes, your body secretes insulin to draw the sugar out of your blood stream and into your cells. It does this because too much sugar in the blood is dangerous. But them what happens is your blood sugar gets low and your body starts to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and you eventually start to crave more sugar which continues the cycle. Now folks this is very simplified, mainly because I don’t want to go into the technical jargon. But what is important is that you understand the cycle, lets review again.

1.) You Eat Food with a High Glycemic Index
2.) This causes a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels
3.) To counter this your pancreas secretes insulin to draw the sugar from the blood into the cells
4.) This leads to a drop in blood sugar and a. . .
5.) Desire for more sweets

How many people are trapped in this cycle? We do what we need to do to survive but if we don’t consciously intervene and stop this cycle it will continue and lead to a crisis.  And, don’t just listen to me, I encourage you to try it yourself. Watch what happens when you eat high sugar foods, watch the cycle see how it feels in your body, pay attention.

These spikes and peaks and valleys also cause a massive increase in the release of stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. This leads to a host of other issues with weight gain and insulin resistance being two of the main outcomes. 


Take your sweetness and health one step further, consider using Stevia, a naturally sweet substance that rates ZERO on the Glycemic Index. Meaning it will not affect your blood sugar in any way. We have a variety of Stevia options for you to choose from making it easy for you to start using it in a number of different ways. 

Packets and Liquid

Tuck a few of the packets into your purse, pocket or backpack for use on the go. Or pick up a dropper bottle which also conveniently fits into a purse or backpack.

But, no matter how you choose to sweeten your life beware of the dangers,options and choices involved. Because over time your body will suffer from an overload of sugar. The body is resilient and with proper care and attention it will be there to serve and support you to live a healthy balanced life.

This piece was written and compiled for Zebra Organics by Mark D’Aquila, flower essence practitioner, www.essencealchemy.com

Honey: The Functional Food

Oh Honey. . .
Oh honey . . . how much do we love you . . .? Let me count the ways:
  1. You sweeten my life naturally
  2. You are a high enzyme food
  3. You contain powerful anti oxidant compounds
  4. You remain eternal and never spoil
  5. You can keep wounds clean and speed healing

Magical Food
Honey is such a special food source and I (Mark D’Aquila) the guy who writes these blogs love it so much.  To me honey is magic, what the bees do is alchemy, drinking nectar from a flower then transforming it into a sweet viscous nourishing substance.  Honey and bees have been revered throughout time, archaeologists found honey in a pyramid in Egypt and guess what, it is still good, honey never spoils. I call it magic, maybe honey is the real ‘fountain of youth’?  It does keep the skin moist, supple and dignifies the aging process in that respect.

Honey is a high enzyme food, some of the enzymes in honey have been introduced by bees and some are part of the original flower nectar.  Heating honey neutralizes the enzymes, to get the enzyme benefits of honey you need to consume it raw.  Some of the enzymes in honey include amylase, invertase, the most notable enzyme in honey is glucose oxidase. This enzyme produces hydrogen peroxide which is part of honey’s anti bacterial activity and contributes to its wound healing properties.

There are literally thousands of  honey varieties from all corners of the globe. And, all honey varieties are unique because of the flowers and energy of the region where the bees gather the nectar. This expansive variety makes exploring the world of honey a fun, endless and rewarding treat.  And I am always looking for a variety or two that truly stand out.  Today most honey is produced by apiaries but being that bees are ‘wild’ animals I wondered if I could find any ‘wild’ honey.  My prayer was answered and not only did I find wild honey but I found wild honey from a sacred source.  I am proud that we here at Zebra Organics can now offer you a variety from the sacred Himalayan Mountain range and a variety from virgin forests of central India.  

Raw Wild Honey
From wild beehives in virgin forests, this is certainly something you do not come across very often.  This honey is sourced by tribes in central Indian’s virgin forests an area far from the pollutants common in more developed areas.  These virgin forests are also a source for many herbs used by Ayurveda healing practitioners. From these healing plants within this preserved environment comes this raw wild honey. The tribes who gather this honey are paid a fair price which allows them to maintain a traditional lifestyle and gather honey the way their ancestors have for centuries.  Make no mistake there is a lot of care and attention that has gone into this product from the forest itself to the gathering, bottling and shipping.  Every effort is made to ensure you receive a truly raw, nutritious and health promoting honey.  The unique flowers of this honey provide for a unique variety of anti bacterial, anti viral, anti fungal and anti oxidant compounds.

Anti Oxidant Power
Because normal body processes result in oxidative stress the human body naturally produces anti oxidant compounds. When honey is consumed on a daily basis the levels of anti oxidants in the blood increases.* This is promising because oxidative stress is the body rusting and to slow this process  slows the aging process. Honey is a source for bioflavoniods, darker honeys like the wild forest variety contain more bioflavoniods. 
The Himalayan mountain range has been held as sacred land for thousands of years.  It is a place where yogis and mystics live and go to, to attain nirvana, enlightenment. To be able to offer you honey, a sacred food from a sacred mountain is an honor.  The White Himalayan Honey we offer is a clear transparent honey sourced from the upper reaches of Kashmir near the border of Tibet. This extremely rare and exotic honey  has a rich flavor profile that is almost not noticed at first and then opens up to a world of exquisitely sumptuous subtle flavors.

Honey and Wound Healing
Honey has been and can be used to speed the healing process of wounds.  Honey’s ability to heal wounds is found its way into the pharmaceutical market, there are now prescription only honey based wound care dressing available.  Honey helps wounds heal because of its ability to draw moisture from the wound and the presence of anti bacterial compounds.  These are just its natural properties.

Glycemic Index
Just some of the things I love about honey.  Honey is a functional food bar none and it is magical.  A sweet nectar produced by bees from flowers, a safe sweet nectar at that.  Honey is composed of fructose and glucose two simple sugars which are easily digested and have a lower glycemic index than regular sugar.  Honey has a glycemic index rating of 55 which puts it one point lower than medium on the glycemic index scale, 56-69 is considered medium. Experimental evidence suggests the body can tolerate honey better than either fructose or glucose separately.*

However you want to look at it honey is truly a special food, whether you want to use it as a sweetener or are looking to it for it potential health benefits, honey can find a place in any pantry.  While all honey is unique and special I encourage you to try the wild varieties we offer.  By purchasing these wild foods you are supporting the traditional honey foragers in maintaining their indigenous way of life which is in harmony with the environment. 

*The information in this blog post is not medical advice and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

*from research by biochemist Heidrun Gross and colleagues of UC, Davis
*International Symposium on Honey and Health 2008, Sacramento, CA.