In the US our addiction to sugar has contributed to the obesity epidemic. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added for most American women, to about 6 teaspoons per day and 9 teaspoons per day for men. Considering that sugar is a hidden ingredient in most of our foods, we need to look at alternatives.
The healthiest alternative is to eliminate all added sugars from your diet. This will help you to regain the ability to be satisfied by the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables and it will eventually eliminate any cravings for sugars. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not a good idea to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners since the chemicals found in them can cause problems for your body.
If you find it difficult to completely eliminate refined,white sugar from your diet, here are some healthier alternatives:
This sugar is made from the coconut blossom but it doesn’t taste like coconut. It can be used as a 1 to 1 replacement for refined cane white sugar or brown sugar. Although the calorie count is the same as white sugar, Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index meaning it is slower to raise blood sugar levels which helps to maintain more stabilization in your overall glycemic levels.
Another benefit sis that coconut sugar also contains nutrients of magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B-Vitamins and amino acids, whereas cane sugar has negligible nutrients
Pure Maple syrup is not to be confused with pancake or breakfast syrup. These are primarily flavored high fructose corn syrup and by law cannot be labeled as “Maple Syrup” so it’s important to read your labels.
Pure Maple Syrup can add a distinct flavor to recipes and although it may have a slightly higher calorie count than cane sugar, its sweeter taste may require less to be used overall. In addition, Maple Syrup is higher in calcium, iron, magnesium and a good source of manganese. It too has a lower glycemic count than cane sugar.
Molasses is a thick syrup produced when the sugar cane plant is processed to make refined sugar. Unlike refined sugar, molasses contains all of the nutrients that are lacking in refined cane sugar. Of all the varieties of molasses, Blackstrap molasses has the highest vitamin and mineral content of all. It is a good source of B Vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Copper and Selenium.
Many people use honey as a sugar substitute and although it’s natural and contains a small amount of minerals, due to its high glycemic and calorie count, it should be used sparingly. If you choose to use honey, it’s better to use “Raw” honey since it has the extra benefit of being loaded with antioxidants. Pasteurized honey or honey that has been heated does not have this extra benefit.
Stevia is derived from the leaves of the Stevia plant and is about 250 times sweeter than white sugar. The advantage of using Stevia is that it has a zero glycemic count, eliminating any sugar spikes. When choosing a Stevia product, be aware that some of the Stevia blends contain sugar alcohols which can cause digestive issues such as bloating and/or diarrhea since the body cannot digest it. Therefore it’s recommended that you choose a product with the highest concentration of Stevia in it.
Finally, if you still need more help to combat sugar cravings, try adding foods to your diet such as nuts, avocados, or fish. These foods have “healthy fats” to help you get through the afternoon crash. If you still need your sugar, try eating your dessert first, before your main entree. This will help to reduce the blood sugar spike and crash which usually leads to more sugar cravings. Ending the meal with protein or healthy fats can reduce these urges.