Everyone has a sweet tooth, so let’s look at some healthy alternatives to sugar and aspartame that can help you control the cravings without loosing control of your waistline. One very important tip when consuming sugar, whether it be natural sugar from fruit or a candy bar, is to eat it with protein. An apple with a little bit of peanut butter is a great snack because the protein in the PB will actually lower the glycemic level of the apple, this means your insulin won’t spike up and crash later on. Here are some of my favorite sweetners, please add your own favorites in the comments section!
Raw honey – full of enzymes, but has to be RAW as pasteurizing food kills the nutrients. Honey has a lower glycemic level than sugar, but is higher in calories than other alternatives.
Xylitol – looks like sugar, smells like sugar, tastes like sugar – guess what it is sugar. Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar made from fruit. There are even studies showing it helps FIGHT cavities!
Stevia – Stevia is a plant from South America that has been used as a sweetener for a long time with no evidence of side effects. Stevia doesn’t have calories and is actually sweeter than sugar, so use sparingly. In the place of regular or diet soda, my boyfriend and I are big fans of Stevia sweetened sodas like Zevia and Virgil’s diet (which comes in glass for those trying to avoid aluminum and plastic)
Coconut or Palm Sugar – like raw honey, coconut sugar has a low glycemic level. It’s not as low in calories as xylitol or stevia, but it doesn’t cause an insulin spike, which is the cause of fat gain with sugar consumption. It doesn’t taste like coconut and is the same consistency as raw or brown sugar. Can also be used as a 1-to-1 substitute for sugar in baking.
For more information on the dangers of sugar I highly recommend the following:
Sugar Blues – a book by William Dufty on the dangerous and toxic effects of sugar first published in 1975 – This book will change your life.
Is Sugar Toxic? – an excellent article from the NYTimes evaluating one mans research and “controversial” video (controversial to the company’s loosing money).
Sugar: The Bitter Truth – Video by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology that explores the damage caused by sugar.
Photo by frenchbyte, Creative Commons 2.0