Who doesn’t love sweets? Everyone craves a little treat every once in a while. But some Americans have become overly obsessed with sugar. According to Forbes, some scientific studies even show that foods high in sugar an be as addicting as heroin and cocaine.
With all the confusion and controversy over what sugars are “good” and what sugar are “bad,” it’s no wonder making the healthiest choice for you and your family is a challenge. That’s why we’ve broken it down for you to make sure you can shamelessly enjoy that sugar fix.
Sugars to avoid like the plague:
Artificial Sweeteners: You want to save some calories right? So you go for the fake sweeteners and voila—that Diet Coke doesn’t look so bad anymore. Artificial sweeteners are synthetically made in a laboratory and are often hundreds of times sweeter than natural sugar.
Be careful, fake sweeteners like Sweet’N Low, aspartame, and Splenda are anything but healthy. News flash— diet drinks and other foods artificially sweetened, actually increase your appetite and make you gain weight.
If this alone hasn’t convinced you, it is highly suspected that these synthetic sugars also cause a number of health conditions, including cancer.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): If you look closely at most of the boxed items in your pantry, you will notice a high percent of them include HFCS. HFCS should be avoided at all costs. It is a top indicator of highly processed food, and should be kicked to the curb ASAP. HFCS is a super cheap, super concentrated form of sugar that has no nutritional value. It goes straight into the blood stream, raising insulin levels and causing fat to go straight to those love handles.
HFCS also contains harmful GMOs and chemical contaminants, which overtime can cause serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The worst part about HFCS is it is hard to avoid, even if you are trying to keep your family healthy. According to the Huffington Post, of the 600,000 food items in the grocery, 80% have added sugar. HFCS is definitely a sugar to keep away from your family.
White Sugar: Ahhh, white sugar, a big staple in your Grandma’s pantry. This is the sugar you may add to your coffee in the morning or in those cookies from scratch. Although it is not as terrible as artificial sweeteners and HFCS, it is still pretty bad. White sugar has no nutritional value, and is typically overused in most households. For your health and your waistline, we suggest holding off on using white sugar except for the most special of occasions.
Healthy sugar alternatives for that sweet tooth:
Raw Honey: Honey, or the, “nectar of the Gods,” is an excellent option to consider when picking a sweetener. Honey has tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to boost immunity and fight off cancer causing free radicals. Honey is also packed with antibacterial properties, and can be used to treat minor cuts and burns.
Why raw honey? It hasn’t been heated or processed in anyway, so it doesn’t lose any of those fabulous nutrients.
Stevia: Stevia is an all-natural herb-derived sugar substitute that is extremely sweet. In fact, it is 200x sweeter than sugar. Stevia is derived from the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant, and was discovered thousands of years ago on the edge of the rain forest in Paraguay. It contains many nutrients, and the leaves can be used in a variety of ways.
Try this: add a few drops of stevia to soda water and kick that soda habit for good!
Coconut palm sugar: If you’re going for a sugar that is close to the caramel and butterscotch taste of brown sugar, look no farther. An up and coming sugar alternative is coconut palm sugar. It is unprocessed and contains tons of nutrients, including; potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. One of the best parts of this sweetener is that it melts like sugar and tastes delicious, yet its properties do not spike blood sugar like other sweeteners do.
Even if these alternatives are considered healthier, it is still important to note that they must be used in moderation. Try using a 90/10 rule, meaning, eat healthy, fresh foods 90% of the time, than use these sugars to sweeten things up the other 10%.