how sweet it is! (or isn’t)
I think we all know, and agree that sugar is not good for us, right? When I say sugar, I mean white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, organic sugar, raw sugar, evaporated cane juice, etc. I know, it’s not something that people like to talk about, because it is pretty much everywhere, and we all know we shouldn’t eat it. But, I have been wanting to touch on this topic for a long time, and with sugar season (I mean, the holidays) coming up, what better time than now? 🙂
I have been studying the effects of sugar on our bodies for quite some time, and I would like to share my findings with you. White, processed sugar is actually an inflammatory food, an addictive toxin in our system. Even in small quantities, it is extremely harmful to us in so many ways, and has reduced the quality of life for so many in this country.
The children of today, deserve to be educated on sugar and the harmful effects it can have on their bodies now, and as they grow. I also feel it is our duty as grown-up’s to share this information with the youth of today, for they are our future, and our future should be bright and healthy. It’s not just the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country, but it is the children who look seemingly healthy, but years down the line, develop many different and serious ailments, due to years of continually eating foods with additives and sugars. It builds up in their systems as time goes on. Sugar can suppresses the immune system, can cause diabetes, autoimmune disorders, contributes to heart problems, ADHD, is very addictive, decreases energy, causes adrenal fatigue, contributes to excema, and much much more.
There are many, many products out there that claim to be “healthy”, yet are sweetened with cane sugar. Many products marketed to our children are actually loaded with sugar…even “organic sugar” on the label is supposed to make it sound healthier or more high end. Well, it’s not. It’s still the same ‘ol dang sugar!
When my children have friends that visit our home, which is usually on a daily basis, I like to put out fresh fruit and veggies, with a dip, or homemade muffins or cookies made healthfully, with all organic ingredients, and non refined sugars to sweeten up the recipes just a bit. But, the healthiest sweetener for sure, is NO SWEETENER at all.
Now, I know what you are thinking, WHAT? NO SWEETENERS? Well here’s the thing, the less you eat of sweet foods, the less you crave them, and the more accustomed you become to not having them. Then, when you do actually taste something sweet, even a piece of fresh fruit or vegetables such as a sweet pear, a banana or a sweet potato…BOY it is incredibly sweet and satisfying! I also appreciate the fresh taste, and the natural sweetness of of these foods even more, when I am not putting factory made sugary substances into my body. (i.e. Halloween candy!)
Now, for most people, cutting out all sweet food is probably not going to be very sustainable, but reducing the amount of sugar and sweet food in your diet is heading down the right path. I know there is a bit of confusion when it comes to replacing sugar with something healthier. Below, I have listed some of my top picks for sweetening without sugar.HEALTH TIP FOR KIDS (and grown up’s too) : During the holidays, there is usually an abundance of candy, cake and processed foods readily available, starting with the Halloween tradition of trick or treating. Having a little here and there might not be too bad for the children, if balanced with other more healthful choices. Unfortunately, binging on candy, will most certainly throw their immune systems into a downward spiral (because that’s what sugar does)… Just in time for them to become extremely vulnerable during cold and flu season…not to mention all of the holiday festivities on the horizon! My suggestion is to keep it to a minimum, and not overload their bodies with substances that will ultimately make them sick.
Sweeteners I choose
1. fresh fruit
Yes, fruit is the best sweetener there is! Bananas, apples, pears, dates, blueberries, peaches! These are all natural sweeteners that can be used in cooking and baking without anything (or very little additional sweetener) added. This is my favorite choice, as it is the most natural and whole food way to sweeten.
2. local raw honey
I use raw honey to sweeten tea’s and in some of my recipes. The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Honey is extremely sweet, so a tiny bit usually does the trick.
3. pure, grade b maple syrup
I use maple syrup in some of my recipes, and trust me, a little goes a long way. Maple syrup contains calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and Iron. Less calories per serving than honey.
I use dates to sweeten smoothies and some breakfast recipes! They are truly amazing, and loaded with nutrients. They are super sweet, so 1 or 2 is usually all I can have at one time. I will sometimes put a couple of these into the lunch boxes in the morning. It’s a nice nutritional treat.
Dates are loaded with essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. They also contains vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
5. coconut palm sugar (maybe)
I have been using a bit coconut palm sugar to sweeten certain recipes. It is fairly easy to use, as it’s ratio is the same as conventional sugar when measuring for baking. I do however find it a bit trendy right now, so I am waiting for more information to come out on it. Also, coconut palm sugar is not a sustainable industry.
Stevia is all the rage right now. But it is quite bitter! Seriously bitter. Although it is derived from the stevia leaf, it does not feel, or taste natural to me, so for this reason, I find it questionable. The real, unprocessed stevia is green in color, so all others sold in the stores or even labeled “organic” are refined.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, that is more natural than some other sweeteners, but can wreak havoc on the intestinal system. It can irritate IBS, and cause poor digestion. There are many gums and mints that are sweetened with xylitol, which in most cases, is better than the alternatives.
I avoid agave as I would avoid white sugar. There is not much difference in the way our body breaks it down. It is extremely refined, and very high in fructose. No Thanks!
TOXIC, artificial sweeteners
- Aspartame (includes Equal, Nutrasweet brands)
- Sucralose (includes Splenda brand)
- Saccharin (includes Sweet’N Low brand)
There is nothing good or nourishing about the above artificial sweeteners. Nothing. They are synthetic and will not add value to your health.
Many people use artificial sweeteners to cut their caloric intake, but the very opposite effect can occur. New research shows that artificial sweeteners stimulate taste receptors that sense sweetness in both the esophagus and stomach. Anticipating energy, the pancreas releases insulin, an important hormone for accumulating body fat. At the same time, chemicals are sent to the brain’s satiety center, which becomes confused as to whether or not the body is actually receiving calories. The result? You feel even hungrier and less full, which can lead to weight gain.
Wow, ok, now that I got all of that sweetness off my chest, I hope you sweeten up your day naturally, and enjoy all that life has to offer!
Living clean for extraordinary health
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