What Sweeteners Should You Be Using?

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The average American is taking in 400 calories a day from added sugars! And while the consumption of refined sugar is on the rise, so are artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, ACE K and saccharin have been debated for years in regard to their damaging side effects. (1)

While all of these sweeteners are technically “safe,” according to the FDA, they are coming under increased scrutiny because of their side effects. Side effects from artificial sweeteners range from headaches and migraines to shrunken thymus glands, impairment of liver and kidney function, and mood disorders.

Refined sugars aren’t healthy either. Side effects of refined sugars include diabetes, tooth decayobesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer and even poor cognitive functioning.(2) (3) (4)

Over the last few years, corn growers and affiliated associations have pushed high fructose corn syrup as a natural sweetener. This is simply not true. The vast majority of HFCS is produced from genetically modified corn.

Fructose is a simple sugar that is rapidly metabolized by the liver causing a “sugar high.” This quick-acting sugar is believed to lead to increased storage of fat in the liver, resulting in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, digestive upset and atherosclerosis. (5)

Fortunately, there are natural sweeteners that are healthy and tasty alternatives to refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, substituting healthy sweeteners — including blackstrap molasses, maple syrup and honey — can increase the antioxidant intake. (6)

This study shows that replacing 130 grams a day of refined sugars (the average intake) with healthy alternative natural sweeteners can increase the amount of antioxidants you consume each day, in amounts similar to that of consuming berries and nuts.


Top 10 Natural Sweeteners

  1. Raw Honey (1 tablespoon – 64 calories)
  2. Stevia (0 calories)
  3. Dates (1 Medjool Date – 66 calories)
  4. Coconut Sugar (1 tablespoon – 45 calories)
  5. Maple Syrup (1 tablespoon – 52 calories)
  6. Blackstrap Molasses (1 tablespoon – 47 calories)
  7. Balsamic Glaze (1 tablespoon – 20-40 calories depending on thickness)
  8. Banana Puree (1 cup – 200 calories)
  9. Brown Rice Syrup (1 tablespoon – 55 calories)
  10. Real Fruit Jam (varies depending on fruit)

1. Raw Honey

Raw honey is a true superfood and one of my favorite natural sweeteners. It’s packed with enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin. Together, these essential nutrients help to neutralize free radicals while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

One tablespoon of raw honey has 64 calories and has less impact on glycemic load than a single banana. It’s important to note that these are the benefits of raw honey. Once honey has been pasteurized, it loses the many of the health benefits that raw honey brings to the table.

Look for local raw honey at farmer markets and directly from local beekeepers. The darker the honey, the richer the flavor and the greater the health benefits.

How to use raw honey:

First, don’t cook with raw honey. Drizzle it on breakfast cereals, over your sprouted grain toast, on yogurt and for salad dressings.

You want to maintain as many of the nutrients in honey as possible, so keep it away from the heat. If you enjoy honey in your tea or coffee, wait until the drink is just tepid enough to sip comfortably, and then add honey to taste.

 

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