Nutrasweet, Sweet and Low, Splenda, white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucanat, evaporated cane juice, date powder, coconut sugar, xylitol, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup, honey and stevia. Whew, that’s a lot of sweetener! Where to turn, what to use????
For someone consuming white or brown sugar, the first step would be to eliminate that from your diet. Why should you do that? There are many reasons but let’s just consider two.
1. White sugar is devoid of any nutrients, in fact it is an anti-nutrient. That means it robs your body of nutrients in order to metabolize it – calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, chromium, zinc and B Vitamins. Your body will draw on either it’s own reserves of these nutrients or take them from other foods in the same meal. Brown sugar has had some molasses added back to it, but in such low amounts as to generally not be considered of any health benefit.
2. It also suppresses immune function for up to 5 hours by reducing the activity of certain white blood cells and competing with Vitamin C for entry into some of our cells. Many people, especially children, are consuming sugar all day long – from their breakfast cereals, bread (yes, there is sugar added to many breads!), granola bars, sweetened yogurts, cookies, salad dressings, condiments and more. When you consume sugar all day long, your immune system never has a chance to recoup, leading to chronically depressed levels. White blood cell function constitutes a major portion of our defense mechanism against infection and constant impairment can lead to immune-compromised states. This immune suppression is dose dependent – the more sugar you consume the greater the negative impact on immune function! Bear in mind this suppression can also happen from other carbohydrates in the form of glucose, fructose and sucrose. This means even so called healthier sweeteners like honey or agave can have negative effects.
The addition of high fructose corn syrup is many processed foods is also very detrimental to our health. Mercury has been found in 50% of samples tested! What is this neurotoxin doing to our brains and bodies? This is a cheap sweetener derived from genetically modified corn and the farthest thing away from a natural food. Stay as far away from this “frankenfood” as possible. It is adding to the obesity problem, taxes our livers and most likely contributing to a whole host of other medical conditions as well.
Ideally, we would get all our sugars in their natural form – from fruits, but most of our taste buds aren’t ready for that, so what can we do to start heading in the right direction? I do not recommend unnatural sugar substitutes – aspartame being the big one. For an eye opening 11 minute video on this see – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvFRLIjOLOU
As a starting point, you can use stevia (available at health stores or you can grow your own plant) to enable you to reduce the amount of sweetener in a recipe, sometimes by half. It requires some experimenting in order to do this though. Use Sucanat (evaporated cane juice), unpasteurized or raw honey or maple syrup to replace white or brown sugar in most recipes. They have not had nutrients stripped from them and still contain vitamins and minerals. For optimal nutrition, use a local raw honey and do not cook with it. There are unscrupulous vendors selling fake honey with no trace of bee pollen in it. It has been estimated that up to 75% of grocery store honey has been ultra filtered to remove any trace of goodness in it (pollen) or to hide the original source of some ingredients.
See http://www.naturalnews.com/034102_honey_consumer_alert.html for more information on this.
If your budget can afford it, date sugar would be considered one of the healthiest sugars as it is dried and powdered dates. Medjool dates are very sweet and you can cut them up and add them to oatmeal as it is cooking on the stove or you can soak them (removing pits first) in water and blend to make a paste or syrup. Raisins (should be organic as grapes are heavily sprayed) are also delicious in oatmeal and can reduce or eliminate the need for additional sweeteners in baking. Getting creative in the kitchen with dried fruits can result in much healthier treats.
One of my “go to” quick treats when I have a sweet tooth is to take a medjool date, remove the pit and dip it into peanut or almond butter. The combination of a nut butter (fat) with the sweetness is usually enough to satisfy me. Pop one or two of these into your mouth and forget about snacking on less wholesome foods like cakes, donuts or other baked goods usually made with white flour and sugar.
If you would like to make a healthier lemonade, try this:
Into a pitcher of filtered water, add 2 droppers of lemon flavoured stevia (available in health stores), 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 tbsp. of maple syrup.
For a short cut version, use Santa Cruz bottled lemon juice, not from concentrate. The addition of maple syrup takes away any trace of bitterness from the stevia.