These days, sugar is the big enemy when it comes to maintaining good health. And yet, sugar seems to be in every single product we purchase at the grocery store! White sugar is the big culprit causing issues, as its highly refined and causes huge spikes (and big drops) in blood sugar levels. This results in strong hunger cravings as our energy levels dip creating a negative health cycle. In our brains, sugar reacts similarly to a mind-altering drug with feelgood effects that make us desire more and more. Our overuse of table sugar is linked to health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Luckily there are better alternatives than white sugar that can help in weaning yourself off your sweet tooth and start a lifestyle thats less sugar-dependent.
Good Sugar Alternatives
Honey This natural sweetener allows for a gradual rise in blood sugar levels rather a spike (and inevitable crash) that comes with consuming white sugar. You probably wont need to use as much honey since its sweeter, and it adds a different and very palatable flavor to foods and beverages. Another wonderful perk with using honey over sugar is that if you choose a local variety it can help acclimate your body to local pollens, making seasonal allergies more manageable.
Molasses This dark, earthy syrup is what is left over from the refining process of cane or beet sugar into table sugar. It actually contains vitamins and minerals, is very low in sugar, and is much better for your health than the alternative. Molasses is great for substituting in baking and dessert recipes.
Stevia This is our choice for sweetening True Citrus products, as its naturally derived from plants, helps control blood sugar levels, is very low in calories, and may even help lower blood pressure. Its very potent so just a small amount goes a long way, and it even helps prevent those strong sugar cravings from occurring.
Turbinado or Cane Sugar This sugar is basically a slightly-less-refined version of regular table sugar. Its often light brown in color as it still contains the molasses that is removed from white sugar. Cane sugar is often used to sweeten natural packaged foods, and often less can be used to acquire a satisfying level of sweetness. Although still sugar, its not nearly as highly processed as white table sugar.
Not-As-Good Sugar Alternatives
Truvia This sweetener has its roots with Stevia (no pun intended), however its not purely natural. It was developed by The Coca Cola Company and Cargill as a sugar alternative, however it can sometimes cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. It also contains erythritol which is made from genetically modified corn. If youre trying to avoid GMOs, you may want to avoid Truvia.
Aspartame This is the artificial sweetener popularly known as Equal (the little blue packets your mom carries around in her purse). Nothing natural about it, this sweetener has been linked to numerous health issues from lowered brain function to cancer. Aspartame is often used as a sugar substitute in diet sodas, which is not as healthy of a choice as some may think.
Although there are better alternatives to refined white sugar on the market its important to remember: these alternatives are still sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation. Sugar affects your body in many different ways, and as with everything should be balanced with a healthy nutrient-dense diet.
[Credit: Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM. 7 Reasons Why Stevia is Better Than Refined Sugar. Global Healing Center.] [Credit: Bruso, Jessica. Splenda vs. Stevia. Livestrong.]