Weight gain is not the only danger of sugar consumption. Sugar consumption is linked to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, depression, insomnia, ADHD, tooth decay, and acne.
As published by http://www.health.harvard.edu “Too much added sugar can be one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular disease.”
People struggling with any type of inflammation or chronic disease should avoid sugar at all means.
When I say sugar, I am not only referring to regular cane sugar we all know. For example, Agave nectar, the natural “healthy” sweetener contains 90% fructose compared to 50% fructose content in regular sugar. The second sugar with the highest fructose content is high fructose corn syrup and the third highest is sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate and occurs also in flours conventionally used in bread and pastries. Since Americans reduced fat consumption, but increased carbohydrate consumption, including refined carbohydrates, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases rapidly increased.
Sugar happens to also be in other foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. However, this kind of sugar is natural and is okay to consume in whole foods in standard amounts. “Plant foods contain high amounts of fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy foods contain protein and calcium. Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells”. http://www.health.harvard.edu
Problems occur when you consume too much added sugar. Food manufacturers add sugar to their products to increase flavor or extend shelf life and this is where most of the added sugar comes from. Reading food labels is essential to our health!
So what sweeteners should we use to avoid health problems?
Here are My Top 5 Natural Sweeteners That Are Safer For Your Health:
100% Monk Fruit Extract – Don’t mistake this with Monk Fruit Sugar. Monk Fruit Sugar is a mix of a small amount of Monk Fruit with Erythritol, a sugar alcohol made from corn that is proven to have a bad effect on our gut health. Monk Fruit Extract is usually sold in liquid concentrate form. For those not familiar with Monk Fruit, it is a fruit discovered by Buddhist monks in the remote mountain highlands of Asia prized for its sweetness and its ability to raise chi, or life energy. It doesn’t spike blood sugar, has 0 calories and 0 net carbs. I like to use the extract in smoothies and in baking combined with Allulose.
Inulin – A type of fermentable fiber called oligosaccharide that is naturally found in the roots of many foods, such as asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, and artichokes, and is commonly extracted from chicory root and added to foods. Inulin is fermented by bacteria that normalize the colon and is considered a prebiotic, because of its ability to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. However for some people, especially with IBS, inulin, and other prebiotic (resistant starch) – containing foods might cause bloating or diarrhea, so start with small amounts. Inulin powder can be used as a sweetener substitute in baking. It has a milder sweetness than sugar (about 10 times less), so it’s important to pay close attention to how much inulin you need to add to each recipe. Inulin has 0 carbs and 0 calories and is diabetic safe.
Allulose – A sugar substitute with the same clean, sweet taste. Allulose also called “rare sugar” is found in small quantities in fruits like kiwi, jackfruit, or figs. It bakes, browns, and caramelizes just like table sugar in a ratio of 1 cup regular sugar to 1-1/3 cup allulose. The body absorbs allulose, but it does not metabolize it, so it doesn’t spike blood sugar or add extra calories to our diet. I like to combine allulose with monk fruit extract or yacón syrup.
Yacón syrup – Extracted from the roots of the yacón plant. The yacón plant grows natively in the Andes mountains in South America and has been eaten and used there for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. The manufacturing of the syrup is similar to the way maple syrup is made. Juice from the roots is extracted, then filtered, and evaporated. The consistency of the final product is similar to molasses with a sweet taste and dark color. Yacón syrup, similar to inulin contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are a category of soluble dietary fiber (prebiotics). A large part of yacón syrup isn’t digested, it has only a third of the caloric value of sugar and for this reason, it can be used as a low-calorie alternative to sugar. I like to use it over pancakes or crepes.
Raw honey – For some, it might be controversial, but raw honey contains about 35% fructose, which is less than coconut sugar for example. According to Dr. Steven Gundry, leading heart surgeon and the author of the Plant Paradox, consuming one teaspoon of Manuka or Raw (unpasteurized) local honey a day is acceptable in phase 3 of the Plant Paradox program after healing the gut. Raw honey is a good source of antioxidants, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, immune-boosting and anticancer benefits. It’s also a potent prebiotic, meaning it nourishes the good bacteria that live in the intestines, which are crucial not only for digestion but overall health. I like to use honey in salad dressings and sometimes baking.
As all of these sweeteners are safer than regular sugar, you should still use them as a treat and eat sugar in its whole form from vegetables, in-season fruits, ancient grains, and fermented milk products.
Don’t hesitate to contact me, if you have any dietary questions or questions related to improved gut health. I would love to work with you!
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