Have you wondered why we can be more susceptible to cold and flu viruses over the holidays? Sugar weakens our immune system which allows our bodies to fold when introduced to a virus. Not only that, sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine!! We absolutely need to limit consumption of sugar. And most importantly, fructose-rich sweeteners are to be limited as the liver will turn about 40% of it into fat cells. Fructose can be a culprit to many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, type2 diabetes and obesity. Although glucose is watched closely with diabetics as it raises blood sugar, fructose over time can cause insulin resistance.
Here are healthier sugar alternatives to refined cane sugar that you can use in your own cooking and keep yourself healthier over the holidays:
Brown rice syrup is a good sweetener alternative because it is made up of primarily glucose which is used by the body as energy. It also contains minerals.
Maple syrup is a healthier alternative to refined sugar because it is high in minerals (zinc 28% RDA, Manganese 165% RDA, potassium, iron, calcium). It still is sucrose (fructose/glucose combo) so limited use is advised.
Honey Along the same lines as maple syrup, it is primarily sucrose but is very high in antioxidants and health studies show positive results with consuming raw honey.
Yacon Syrup has soluble fiber which can help lose weight and feed good bacteria in the gut. On a downside, it can cause digestive upset in large quantities.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols can cause digestive upset in large quantities because of how it is absorbed in the body. On a good note, it has benefits for teeth and bone strength and doesn’t raise blood sugar.
Stevia is a plant which has health benefits in the unprocessed form. If you like the taste, this is a perfect sweetener especially for hot drinks and other liquids. In the refined form (white powder), the health benefits vanish but shouldn’t harm your health either.
Coconut Sugar contains minerals (iron, zinc, calcium, potassium) and short-chain fatty acids, antioxidants, and polyphenols. It also contains a fiber called Inulin which slow glucose absorption. But it is no miracle food. It still contains a good amount of fructose.
Agave Syrup: one of the worse sweeteners along with high fructose corn syrup (worse than table sugar). Agave is high in fructose (70-90%) and although it doesn’t raise blood sugar in the short term, over time, insulin resistance can result.
Brown Sugar is simply white sugar with small amounts of molasses put back in for a trace of minerals and a brown color.
Other notables: Truvia (is NOT stevia), is a sugar alcohol, highly processed, may cause digestive upset.
Nutrition information from: www.authoritynutrition.com