Five Natural Sweeteners That Can Help You Beat A Sugar Addiction
Sugar has been making a lot of headlines recently, and the news is not so sweet. Studies have linked excess sugar consumption to an increased risk for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. But while cutting back on sugar is definitely a good idea, going cold turkey on sweets isn’t much fun. Luckily, there are plenty of natural sweeteners you can turn to.
Sun Basket registered dietitian Lindsey Kane offers some sweet talk on the natural alternatives to refined sugar.
The sweetener of choice among paleo followers, coconut sugar is touted for its low glycemic index and low fructose to sucrose ratio and for delivering trace amounts of minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron. It also boosts inflammation-fighting antioxidants and inulin, a special type of fiber that promotes gut health.
When it comes to natural sweeteners, fruit reigns supreme. Fruit's sweetness comes with a good dose of health-promoting nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and is delivered in a fiber-rich package, which helps slow the digestion and absorption of sugar. Fresh, dried, frozen, and puréed fruits are all good choices, and even 100 percent fruit jam and fruit juice can be healthy sweeteners, as long as you select those with no added sugar.
Hailed as an immunity booster, both for its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, and its ability to help minimize allergy-related symptoms, honey also contains trace amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, and antioxidants.
In addition to delivering a sweet, earthy, slightly smoky flavor, maple syrup is also a source of zinc, magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, and potassium.
A by-product of the sugar refining, molasses has a robust flavor and a heightened concentration of nutrients. One tablespoon contains 20 percent of the daily value for vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, and manganese.
*Remember, natural sweeteners are still sweeteners no matter the health halo they wear or what trace amounts of nutrients they may contain. When it comes to optimizing health, the answer will never be to consume natural sweeteners. Instead, simply follow these common-sense rules to healthy eating. Include an abundance of whole foods, particularly vegetables, in your diet, and keep sweeteners, refined and natural, to a minimum.
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