White Processed Sugar Alternatives

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We all know that processed white sugar is not good for us at all.  Why?

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

It can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases.  Added sugars (like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) contain a whole bunch of calories with NO essential nutrients.

  1.  Sugar contains a lot of calories, with no essential nutrients. It also causes tooth decay by feeding the harmful bacteria in the mouth.
  2. For people who are inactive and eat a Western diet, large amounts of fructose from added sugars get turned into fat in the liver.
  3. Excess fructose gets turned into fat, which can lodge in the liver and cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  4. When people eat a lot of sugar, it can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can contribute to many diseases.
  5. Because of the harmful effects of sugar on the function of insulin, it is a leading driver of type II diabetes.
  6. There is considerable evidence that sugar, due to its harmful effects on metabolism, can contribute to cancer.
  7. Fructose doesn’t cause satiety in the brain or lower the hunger hormone ghrelin nearly as much as glucose.
  8. Because sugar causes a large release of dopamine in the brain, it can cause addiction in a lot of people.
  9. Because of the effects of sugar on hormones and the brain, sugar dramatically increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese
  10. Not surprisingly, many observational studies find a strong statistical association between sugar consumption and the risk of heart disease.

-Kris Gunnars

-Authority Nutrition-An Evidenced Based Approach

There are alternatives to white processed sugar.  See the many options below.

 

Photo By Getty Images

Coconut Sugar

Made from the sap of coconut-tree blossoms, this sweetener is loaded with zinc, potassium, iron, and vitamin B. “It also contains less fructose than table sugar, which is helpful because fructose is tough for your body to break down and metabolize,” says New York City nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg.

Best uses: Despite the name, there’s no coconut flavor; it has more of a caramel taste, which works well in coffee or tea. Because it’s granular, it’s also a great substitute for white or brown sugar in recipes.

 

Maple Syrup

Research shows that pure maple syrup – straight from the tree, not the cheap stuff made from corn syrup flavored with maple extract – can contain up to 54 antioxidant compounds, some of which may help combat cancer and diabetes.

Best uses: Besides pouring it over pancakes, try this spicy syrup in homemade ice cream, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, and glazes or gravies for pork.

 

Photo By Getty Images

Stevia

It may sound like a gimmicky name for an artificial sweetener, but stevia is actually a natural sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the South American stevia plant. “It’s one of your best options because it has no calories or carbs, and studies suggest it may help control insulin resistance,” says holistic nutritionist Lisa Turner.

Best uses: Flavor oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, and drinks with just a touch – stevia is far sweeter than sugar, and leaves a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste if you overdo it.

 

Blackstrap Molasses

A by-product of sugarcane, “this sweetener is high in minerals, especially magnesium, which is helpful to a healthy metabolism. That’s a mineral that around two-thirds of us don’t get enough of in our diets.

Best uses: This type of molasses tastes bitter on its own, but it will add a rich, smoky sweetness to spicy or savory dishes and baked goods like gingerbread.

Photo By Getty Images

Raw Honey

Make sure your bottle says raw to ensure you’re getting disease-fighting antioxidants that could otherwise be destroyed during pasteurization. You eat it exactly like it comes out of the hive. Raw honey can fight colds and sore throats, kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and reduce symptoms of respiratory infections.

Best uses: Stir it into coffee, tea, smoothies, and oatmeal, or spread it on bread for sandwiches. It’s creamier and richer than regular honey, so a little goes a long way.

Monk Fruit

Derived from antioxidant-rich fruits first cultivated by Buddhist monks nearly 800 years ago, this natural option seems too good to be true: it’s zero-calorie, non-glycemic, free of aftertaste, and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Just be sure to avoid products like Splenda’s “Nectresse,” which is marketed as monk fruit sweetener but contains added sugar and molasses.

Best uses: Use the granular sweetener as a replacement for syrup in cold drinks and cocktails – it dissolves instantly. It’s also 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a pinch.

Photo By Getty Images

Date Sugar

Made by drying fresh, pitted dates and crushing them into a powder, date sugar has 25 percent fewer calories than table sugar and is nearly twice as sweet (which further reduces the calories, because you’ll need to use less of it). Dates are also packed with fiber, Vitamin C, and essential minerals such as selenium, copper, and potassium.

Best uses: Because date sugar doesn’t dissolve or melt, the sweetener is best suited to dry mixes for baked goods such as breads, muffins, cookies and homemade energy bars, where it will lend a caramel-like flavor.

Photo By Getty Images

Xylitol

Xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol, and is made from cornhusks or birch tree bark. Research shows it’s good for oral health – it can reduce bacterial growth, stave off plaque, and help prevent cavities. And because it’s so low on the glycemic index (the scale measures how food affects blood sugar and insulin levels; the lower the number, the smaller the spike), Xylitol is okay in moderation for diabetics, says nutritionist and James Beard Award-winning chef Cheryl Forberg. “But it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, so limit how much you use.”

Best uses: Equally as sweet as sugar, Xylitol makes for a simple replacement in baked-good recipes, where it also helps to retain moisture.

Barley Malt and Brown Rice Syrups

Both of these natural sweeteners are made from whole grains – barley and brown rice, respectively – and are less refined than table sugar, low on the glycemic index, and made of slow-digesting carbs that enter your bloodstream steadily during a couple hours, versus the almost immediate uptake of table sugar. And unlike alternative sweeteners such as honey, these syrups won’t crystalize over time and have a long shelf life.

Best uses: Barley malt and brown rice syrup have a rich, butterscotch flavor, says nutritionist Lisa Turner, which pairs perfectly in spice cakes and bread recipes, or over cereal and pancakes.

Photo By Alasdair Thomson / Getty Images

One to Avoid: Agave Nectar

Though derived from the agave plant, this syrup is just as processed as regular sugar and can contain up to 97 percent fructose – more than high-fructose corn syrup. Limit intake just as you would for table sugar.

-Sarah Toland

What is your favorite healthy alternative sugar?  Do you have a recipe that you would like to share using your favorite healthy sugar alternative?

CLEAN CARAMEL CORN {HEALTHY, VEGAN, DELICIOUS!}

No refined sugars required for this delicious recipe! Just need a little maple syrup and coconut oil! You will be amazed at how amazing this caramel corn is.

Yield: 8 cups popped, approximately

Prep Time: 

Cook Time: 

Total Time: 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place 1 tablespoon coconut oil into deep pot or pan with tight fitting lid and melt over medium high heat. Add in popcorn kernels and cover. Shake pan back and forth every 20 seconds or so to heat kernels evenly. After about 2 minutes, kernels should start to pop. Once popping slows, remove popcorn from heat and pour into large bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, place remaining coconut oil with maple syrup and salt. Boil 2 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Drizzle over popcorn and toss to coat evenly. Spread out onto some parchment paper to cool 30 minutes or so. Serve.

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