Healthy Sugar Alternatives
Just because sugar is not good for you, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in sweet treats. There are alternatives to processed sugar.
But first, why am I talking about high-quality sweeteners?
We’ve all heard that too much highly processed, refined sugar can have devastating effects on your metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases like obesity and diabetes. This is very serious because:
- Sugar has lots of calories with no essential nutrients. It can cause tooth decay by feeding harmful bacteria in your mouth!
- If you eat high quantities of refined, processed sugar and do not exercise you are at risk, for an excess of sugar, to get lodged in your liver and cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. (1 in 4 Americans have fatty liver disease) If untreated, it can progress to cirrhosis of the liver and eventually the need for a liver transplant. Those who are obese and diabetic also tend to be hypertensive. They have a higher risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke and possibly dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- When you consume too much sugar, it can cause insulin resistance which can lead to diseases like metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and Alzheimer’s account for 5 of the top 10 causes of death in the US.
- An excess amount of sugar can have a devastating effect on your metabolism, which is now known to lead to cancer.
- Sugar is highly addictive because after ingestion it causes a huge release of dopamine in your brain.
- Sugar is a major contributor to heart disease, which is the number one killer in the world. But what many people don’t realize is that there are healthier alternative sweeteners out there that won’t damage your health as much and taste just as sweet, if not more!
Some high-quality sweet alternatives to processed sugar are:
- Stevia—a plant used by the Guarani people of South America for more than 1500 years:
- Tastes about 300 times sweeter than table sugar
- No calories, no impact on blood sugar and may reduce blood pressure
- Make sure to buy only 100% whole leaf stevia… look for RebA
- Xylitol—a sugar alcohol that is neither sugar nor alcohol but is actually an organic compound:
- About the same sweetness as table sugar
- Comes from a non-GMO plant source
- Low in calorie and no effect on blood sugars
- Erythritol—also a sugar alcohol like Xylitol
- About 70% as sweet as table sugar and tastes just like it
- It is 100% Erythritol
- Nearly non-caloric doesn’t spike blood sugar and is easily digested
- Coconut palm sugar—from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm:
- Same sweetness as table sugar
- Look for labels that say coconut sugar, coconut crystals or coconut palm sugar
- Has a low glycemic index and contains some nutrients and fiber
- Agave—produced from the leaves of this Mexican succulent plant
- It is about one and a half times sweeter than table sugar
- Make sure to buy organic agave
- It lowers the glycemic index more than table sugar does
- Slightly sweeter than table sugar
- Buy raw, local and organic honey
- Can help boost immune system and seasonal allergies and soothe sore throats
- Lucuma powder—produced from this subtropical fruit native to South America:
- Sweet, maple flavor
- It is 100% lucuma powder
- Can help boost immune system, no effect on blood sugar and contains nutrients
- Maple syrup—made from the sap of sugar, red or black maple trees:
- About 3 times sweeter than table sugar
- Buy organic pure grade B maple syrup
- Lower fructose content than table sugar but don’t be fooled it’s still sugar
- Monk fruit (lo han gou)—made from a green melon that grows in the mountaintops of Asia:
- About 200 or 300 times sweeter than table sugar
- Buy pure monk fruit or pure lo han gou sweetener
- Non-caloric, no impact on blood sugar and may be anti-inflammatory
How can I use one of these alternative sweeteners in my cooking?
Here’s an awesome, healthy and sweet recipe for Candied Walnuts to get you started:
Prep time: 5 mins; Serves: 4
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped or whole; 1 tsp cinnamon; 2 T coconut oil; 1 T honey salt to taste
In a medium hot frying pan, add coconut oil, walnuts, salt and cinnamon. Cook until toasted, about 10 min. In the last couple minutes, add the honey for a sweeter taste.
A Health Coach in Allentown can help you make a change that will greatly benefit your health. Fill out the Contact page now to schedule a time to talk with me about the next steps you can take. I am here to help you make a plan to reduce or eliminate processed sugar in your diet and substitute with alternative sweeteners that will completely change your life!