The sugar and sweet cravings can sometimes be unbearable, resulting in overeating on cookies, cake and other sweet treats. Here are some alternatives that have proven health benefits but also provide you with that sweet, sugary taste! Although they are recommended over table sugar, remember they still affect your blood sugars and should be used in moderation!
Fresh or Frozen Fruit
Fruit not only gives you that little burst of sweetness in your yogurt, oatmeal or just when eaten by itself, but also provides you with many vitamins, especially Vitamin C! Fruit is also filled with fiber which helps regulate our blood sugars and keeps us full longer.
Low/Zero Calorie Sweeteners
Stevia is the most commonly recommended by dietitians and nutritional professionals due to its sweet qualities but minimal effect on your blood sugars, especially important for those who have diabetes. It is a naturally occurring sweetener from Stevia plant leaves- making it a natural source of sweetness as well. Buy it in packets or drops to add to your coffee, tea, or anything that needs a little sweetening. However, it is recommended to use these in moderation as there is some evidence that they can effect the gut bacteria which could potentially lead to more fat storage. Switching up your sweeteners is always a good idea!
Natural Sugars – Agave, Maple Syrup, Honey
The good news is that natural sweeteners provide a few more nutrients than table sugar. The bad news? They’re all still forms of sugar and are high in calories, so use sparingly as you would other sugar containing items.
Raw honey and pure maple syrup both contain antioxidants and have prebiotic oligosaccharides that help feed gut flora. Raw honey has an added benefit of vitamins E and C as well as minerals. Note: Honey should not be given to infants because it may contain botulism bacteria spores, a serious health hazard for babies.
When hitting the grocery store, read all food labels for hidden ingredients because commercial maple syrup brands often contain high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose diets are linked to long-term metabolic complications like insulin resistance, belly fat accumulation and high triglyceride levels. When in doubt, stick primarily with pure maple syrup.
Agave nectar has a very similar nutrient composition to sugar, but you get a lot more sweetness for a lot less. However, like all sugars it will raise your blood sugars, so moderation is key.
Bottom line, when it comes to your waistline, weight and blood sugars, all natural sweeteners behave like sugar they just may provide a few more benefits or more “bang for your buck”.