You've probably heard how bad white sugar is for your health by now.
But being bombarded with so much bad news about sugar might leave you confused about natural sugars.
Is it okay to add natural sweeteners to your diet?
What about fresh fruits that are high in sugar?
It's confusing, but the good news is that not all sugars in their natural form are bad. In fact, our tongue has plenty of sweet receptors for a good reason.
It is completely normal to have a desire for the taste of sweetness.
Nature intended us to eat fresh fruits or things like honey for their health promoting qualities. That's “sweet” right?
Top 6 Natural Sweeteners to Reach For
1. Raw Honey
It comes from the nectar of flowers. This form is pure, unheated, unpasteurized and unprocessed.
When bees collect nectar they add their salivary enzyme to it. This increases its nutritional value.
Raw honey is 80% natural sugars and the rest is water, minerals and protein enzymes.
Just be sure you're not being misled by food labeling tricks when shopping for honey.
Tips on use: It is an excellent fuel before and post exercise. It can be used almost anywhere white sugar can be and works well in recipes too!
2. 100 % Maple syrup
You probably already know it's the sap from maple trees.
But did you know?…The glycemic index of maple syrup is about fifty-four. Compare this to a score of about sixty-five for regular cane sugar.
Maple syrup contains up to twenty-four antioxidants. Darker grade maple syrup contains more antioxidants than the lighter ones.
Tip on use: Use as a replacement for white sugar. Helps to improve digestion.
3. Coconut sugar
It's the dried sap from the blossoms of the coconut flower. It's high in fiber and inulin which slows sugar uptake by the body.
Inulin also promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. It even offers small amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants.
Even though the amount offered is small, it's still more that you'll get from white sugar!
Tips on use: Best for people with diabetes. Helps to improve gut health as it's prebiotic.
It's an avocado look alike fruit. It has a mellow sweet taste and it is low on the sugar scale.
The flesh of the fruit is dry, so it’s easy to turn it into a powder to add to smoothies and drinks.
Tips on use: Add to dessert as a natural sweetener. Powder form works well with smoothies. It is gluten-free too!
5. Stevia leaf
Just like the name says, it's the leaf of the herb, stevia. It has a naturally sweet taste.
Native cultures dry and grind up the leaf to a powder. The resulting powder is 30 – 40 times sweeter than sugar. Fresh is best.
A lot of familiar brand names that sell themselves as Stevia have too many added chemicals so don't get tricked by labels. Look for fresh stevia leaf or better yet, grow your own.
Tips on use: Suitable for those that want to lose weight or diabetics. Choose leaves from organic Stevia plants and the ones that are least processed.
6. Monk fruit
It's a subtropical melon fruit. Monk fruit has carbohydrates like all fruits and can be harder to find so check specialty grocers and health food stores.
Once dried, the resulting powder has only a trace amount of sugar. Yet, it's sweet to taste from its chemical compounds called mogrosides.
They're antioxidant in nature and occur in high quantities in the dried form.
Your body uses mogrosides in a different way when compared to other sugars. Because of this, it doesn't cause a sugar spike, despite its sweetness.
Tips on use: The powder form is great for use in desserts and drinks.
Keep in mind, sugar in its natural form as present in whole foods is not an issue for most. The problem starts when processing comes into play.
Foods with added sugars are dangerous too. They come loaded with additives, sodium and added fats.
If all this talk of sweets is giving you a sweet tooth, here's an amazing Paleo Apple Crisp recipe that you'll love!
Yours in health,
P.S. Please share this sweet article with your friends who want to kick white sugar and I welcome your comments below. What is your go-t0 natural sweetener?