How Sweet It Is

By Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE


Sugar is the new fat. By that I mean everyone is on the bandwagon to cut it out, and with good reason. Diets high in sugar can lead to excess weight, diabetes and heart disease.

In addition to reducing sugar it is important to consider what sugar is replacing in our diet. Consider the fact that according to the Centers for Disease Control about 75 percent of people in Georgia and South Carolina are NOT eating adequate fruits and vegetables each day. Yet on average no subgroup of the population was found to be eating less than the maximum amount of sugar recommended.

The emphasis on reducing sugar brings up the topic of honey. Is honey better for you than straight up sugar? Honey is a refined carbohydrate—just like sugar. Honey does have a few minerals and antimicrobial properties that sugar does not have, and honey is less processed than sugar. However, too much honey is no better for you than too much sugar.

So how do we balance our love for sweets and good nutrition? Consider the nutrients that come with the sugar you plan to consume. If the sugar you are consuming comes with no nutrients (ex. soda), it should be eliminated from the diet. Sugar in the form of chocolate milk, lightly (emphasis on lightly) sweetened yogurt or a little honey in your oatmeal can be included into a healthy diet as the sugar is accompanying nutrient-rich foods. It remains important to use the least amount of sugar you can in any given nutrient-rich food.

The bottom line: Regardless of which form of sweet you choose—make it meaningful to you (delicious, minimal and of high quality). A little bit of sugar can make the nutrients go down.

One word of caution: Never give honey to children younger than one year old. Honey may contain trace amounts of botulism spores. While these spores are harmless to most people, immature digestive systems are susceptible.

Honey Oat Muffins
These have a hearty, yet lightly sweet satisfying flavor.
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup golden raisins
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 tablespoons honey for drizzling

12 muffins (serving size: 1 muffin + ½ teaspoon honey for drizzling).

Nutrient Breakdown:
Calories 180, Fat 3.5g (0.5g saturated fat, 1.5g monounsaturated fat), Cholesterol 30g, Sodium 230mg, Carbohydrate 32g, Fiber 3g, Protein 5g

Diabetes Exchanges:
2 carbohydrates, ½ fat

Note the many ways of buttermilk: If you do not have buttermilk you can “make it” by adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk, stirring and allowing it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively you can purchase buttermilk powder in the baking section of the supermarket or simply buy a small container of buttermilk. If you have buttermilk leftover, no worries, you can simply freeze it (in ice cube trays for example) for use later. I tell you all of this because buttermilk creates a lovely soft crumb texture in baked goods so it is a good idea to use it when called for—enjoy!


Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at

This article appears in the September 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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