Letting the truth be told: Sweeteners aren’t the most beneficial to your health. Sweeteners stimulate your appetite, boost your sweet tooth, pack on unwanted pounds, while also placing you at risk for chronic disease like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver.
Though subtracting sugar from your diet altogether is not realistic, there are several healthier alternatives to enjoy while maintaining a healthy eating habits. Let’s start with the best sweeteners.
- Fresh or Frozen Fruit: Fruit are the ideal sweeteners because they hold no empty calories. Fresh or frozen fruit can be added to your bowl of oatmeal, greek yogurt, or flavorful smoothies while you enjoy its natural sweeteners benefits minus the unhealthy caloric intake. Other ways to add natural flavoring include vanilla/almond extract, cocoa powder, and spices like cinnamon and clove.
- Sugar Substitute: Stevia is known as dietitians’ favorites. It contains zero calories, and come in different forms whether be packet, drops or plant usage. Stevia-based sweeteners are herbal based opposed to artificial sweeteners. Stevia blended with a sugar alcohol called erythritol Truvia works well in low-carb baked desserts. Individuals who are pre-diabetes or diabetes are encouraged to substitute artificial sweeteners and stevia as to real sugar, as they will not immediately raise your blood sugar like real sugar.
- Natural Sugar [raw honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, raw sugar]: These types of sugar provide more nutrients than table sugar.
*Raw honey & pure maple syrup both contain antioxidants and have prebiotic benefits that help feed gut flora.
*Commercial maple syrup brands often contain high-fructose corn syrup, consequently offsetting the metabolic functions like insulin levels resulting in belly fat. When in doubt about ingredients, stick with choosing pure maple syrup.
*Agave is equivalent to table sugar but add lots of flavor from a small amount. * honey/agave should not be given to infants due to botulism bacteria spores.
- Refined Sugar: Table sugar is one of the number one ingredients that are hidden in your favorite foods, it causes inflammation, is high in calories, offering no nutritional value. Most flavored granola bars, yogurts and cereals already contain around 12 grams (1 tablespoon) of added sugar per serving. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 25 grams per day, thats half of the recommended sugar intake eaten during breakfast.
- Lastly, is NO Sugar– The solution is no sugar or sugar substitute is healthy in excess. You can try decreasing the sweetener in your coffee or tea by 1 teaspoon per week and start diluting juices by mixing half of the usual portion with water to keep some of the sweetness. When it comes to maintaining a healthy waistline, weight and blood sugar levels, all natural sweeteners behave like sugar. Though is not necessarily realistic to lower sugar intake to zero, making small changes like making a habit of reading labels while grocery shopping makes a drastic difference
*There is so much to learn about sugar and how it affects us in so many ways. Stay on the look for more concerning the specifics of these types of sugars.