For many of us, sugar has been a hard habit to kick. Did you know sugar has been deemed more addicting than cocaine? With these 8 healthy natural sugar alternatives, you can kick that sugar addiction for good.
There are many superior alternatives out there for our cooking and baking needs. I was surprised to see half of them already in my kitchen! I’ll admit, trying to sort out which ones to use for what ingredient was a little intimidating, once I got going, it was so much easier than I thought.
Why you should never eat white sugar:
It’s no secret that excessive sugar is a no-no. But did you know it’s SO bad for you that the medical community has started referring to sugar as “The White Death”? I could write an entire series on all the reasons….but here are the big ones:
- It’s a major contributor to the cause of cancer. Studies have proven repeatedly that sugar is cancer’s favorite food.
- Sugar causes diabetes
- Sugar is highly addictive (experts say, more addictive than cocaine!)
- It is a major cause of obesity
- Sugar is also yeast and bacteria’s favorite food.
Artificial Sweeteners are worse than sugar:
Artificial sweeteners can be a confusing product to avoid. They come by many names and are often claimed to be “natural” although they are highly processes and often synthetic. Mayo Clinic has a fantastic, unbiased article on artificial sweeteners that can help you better understand.
While the positives to them are that in small amount they can help control weight and diabetes, the downsides far outnumber the positives.
- They contribute to cancer in a number of ways
- According to Harvard Medical School, artificial sweeteners can change the way we taste food. This change can make you “shun healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value.”
- This Multi Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) showed at 67% increase in the risk for type 2 Diabetes.
- The same study also showed a 37% increase in risk for metabolic syndrome.
- A 2017 study in the Stroke medical journal showed a link between artificial sweeteners and the risk for stroke and dementia
Healthier Natural Sugar Alternatives
Where sugar and quite a few sweeteners are just empty calories and have NO nutritional value, quite the opposite is true of Coconut Sugar. Coconut sugar contains several minerals including Calcium, Potassium, Zinc, and Iron, along with short chain fatty acids and antioxidants.
Coconut Sugar also doesn’t spike the blood sugar the way sugar cane does. There is some rise in blood sugar levels, but you definitely won’t get that crash after having a treat baked with coconut sugar. When substituting coconut sugar use and equal amount of what your recipe calls for in sugar.
If you like Coconut Sugar, you may like Coconut Flour too!
Stevia is arguably one of the best natural sweeteners available. The reason for this is it is one of the ONLY sweeteners that will have no affect on your insulin levels (i.e. great for diabetics). Keep in mind if you choose to use stevia, it is much much sweeter than regular sugar. When baking with stevia use 1/4 of what the recipe calls for in sugar.
Bananas are a wonderful alternative because they have so many vitamins and health benefits. They make a good substitute for both sugar and oil/butter/shortening. However, bananas are strong in flavor so if a banana taste isn’t what you’re going for, you may need to choose another option
Xylitol is a great substitute for sugar in just about anything; coffee, tea, and baked goods. It has almost no aftertaste like many other sweeteners. Research has also shown that it can kill harmful bacteria in your teeth!
For small amounts like in coffee and tea, the recommended ratio is 1:1. For baking using large amounts of sugar, the recommended amount of xylitol is half the amount of sugar.
Dates are much lower on the glycemic scale than sugar, not to mention a better source of fiber and minerals! For the vegans out there, dates not only are acceptable for a sugar substitute, but for butter also!
Date paste is a little difficult to find in stores ready made, but it’s incredibly easy to make on your own. All you need to do is blend 1 cup of dates with 1/2 cup of water. Store in the fridge for several days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup typically can be found in your local health food store, but, while brown rice does have some nutritional value, the syrup derived from it has been put on the same level as agave nectar and corn syrup, meaning, there are better alternatives. It has almost no nutritional value. But is it still a better, less processed choice than sugar or other artificial sweeteners.
The health benefits of honey are endless. Seriously. It’s commonly known that good local honey can help with allergies and boost your immune system. But science has also proven that consuming reasonable amounts of quality honey can improve your memory, help you sleep, soothe acid reflux, increase your sex drive, and heal gum disease. Good stuff, eh?
Here’s the trick with honey. Honey loses all its healthy properties when it is heated too much. Some might even argue that it turns toxic. If you prefer honey, it’s best added at the very end of the cooking process after the heat has been turned off.
When I say maple syrup, I mean the good stuff. Grade A or B, high quality, from the tree, maple syrup. Not the sugar filled stuff you put on your pancakes in a chain breakfast restaurant.
Quality maple syrup is actually quite good for you. While as sweet tasting, maple syrup ranks lower on the glycemic scale. It contains antioxidants which can help fight cancer and have an anti-inflammatory effect. It also has quite a few minerals present including Manganese, zinc, potassium, and calcium.
Try using these healthy natural sugar substitutes and watch your health improve by leaps and bounds!
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