PCOS: A Complete Sugar Review & The Not-So-Sweet News On Agave

by Becky Miller on January 5, 2013

Screen%20shot%202013 01 04%20at%206.51.06%20PM PCOS: A Complete Sugar Review & The Not So Sweet News On AgavePCOS Weight Loss

It’s possible. Have you joined the ranks of those who have made New Year’s Resolutions trying to achieve PCOS weight loss? Are you still feeling motivated? If not, I think I can convince you to make a ‘sweet’ change that’s worth sticking to.

If you’re looking for a place to begin in treating your PCOS symptoms naturally, cutting down on the sweet stuff is a great place to start. Sugar seems to be the arch-enemy of any women with PCOS, and rightly so. With all of the options out there (some natural), how are we supposed to know which sweeteners are good and bad for us? This one breaks down pretty simply, actually. The battle boils down to fructose vs. glucose, or does it?

In a recent (1) study completed by Yale University, the cerebral blood flow in the brain was measured using an MRI in 20 adults having ingested either a fructose or glucose drink. I think you’ll be interested in the results as well as my other findings that led me to pen this complete sugar review.

Fructose Based Sweeteners

These types of sweeteners are the most unnatural and refined sweeteners on the market. They are typically found in any food and beverages labeled ‘diet’ or ‘sugar-free.’ They are currently sneaking their way into ordinary foods and to unsuspecting individuals who may not be so interested in the diet and sugar-free craze.

Here’s a list of fructose based sweeteners to avoid at all costs:

  • Table Sugar
  • Anything containing the ingredient ‘high fructose corn sugar/syrup’
  • Cane and Corn Sugar/Syrup (still industrially produced)
  • Highly refined sweeteners, i.e. Aspartame (NutraSweet, Sweet-n-Low), Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Agave Nectar
  • Sugar alcohols, i.e. xylitol, sorbitol, malitol etc (basically anything ending with -tol)

Findings from the Yale study indicate that, “fructose ingestion produces smaller increases in circulating satiety hormones compared with glucose ingestion.” Essentially, fructose is failing to signal fullness and satiety, which can contribute to overeating, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Bad news for PCOS, ladies!

Further, the chemicals in certain fructose based sweeteners can be toxic and even harmful to us. Studies (2) on aspartame for example, show that it “converts to formaldehyde, which can cause certain mental disorders, compromise learning and emotional functioning, lead to breast cancer, pre-term delivery, migraines and even cause blindness.”

Your healthfood store likely stocks agave nectar, which contains up to 70-80% fructose. One (3) study indicates that because of it’s fructose properties, agave nectar ‘is uniquely responsible for obesity.’

Many health conscious people think that sugar alcohols are okay to consume. Studies (4)show that sugar alcohols should be avoided and/or approached with caution. They are also among the ranks of sweeteners that ‘disrupt the normal hormonal and neurological signals that control hunger and satiety (feeling full).’ Plus, they’re super toxic to your canine friends. Seems we can’t outsmart mother nature!

Glucose Based Sweeteners

So, what’s so special about glucose? Glucose is a simple sugar that our bodies recognize and actually digest. The digestion, absorption and metabolism of fructose differs from that of glucose. Consuption of glucose stimulates insulin secretion which gives us feelings of fullness in turn signaling us to stop eating. This is linked to our receptors(1) associated with appetite, motivation and reward processing. Glucose requires digestion unlike fructose which goes right to the liver and triggers spikes in insulin.

Glucose triggers our brains such that the brain appeared to know when to shut down cravings for glucose once the body’s requirement for the energy source had been met. Knowing when to stop? Sweet enough for me!

Recommended Sweeteners to be used in moderation:

  • Stevia (the green liquid or powder, not white)
  • Organic, raw and local honey
  • Pure Maple Syrup (5)
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70%)

Bottom Line

Let’s be realistic, if you’re going to resolve to cut down on sugar, then do just that. We’ve discussed the harmful effects of fructose and seen the increased risks for this in women with PCOS. Glucose is still sugar and in turn still stimulates our brain’s pleasure and reward centers through the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Yes, all sugars contain the same stimulants that are found in addictive drugs.

So, in making your decisions about which sweeteners to use your best choice is none. Sorry for the bubble burster. When you do choose to include a sweetener, those that are glucose based are the lesser of the two evils.


To learn more about how all types of sugars affect PCOS and to develop a plan to keep your resolutions, CROWN’s Coaching Programs give you everything you will need to cut down on the sweet stuff and learn other tips to treating your PCOS symptoms naturally.


Contact Becky today to chat! Yes, I’m human and available, too! I’d love to speak with you about how CROWN can help you reach your PCOS goals and dreams. We will schedule a ‘Getting To Know You’ session. It’s complimentary, why wouldn’t you?


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