White sugar remains the most problematic “food” in the American diet. Over the past 100 years or so, we’ve seen obesity and heart attacks rise exponentially – despite our fat intake lowering dramatically.
Fat’s like the younger brother who gets blamed for everything even if it wasn’t his fault.
In fact, our holistic doctor loves to say this:
“Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does.”
Sugar not only makes you fat and leads to cardivasular disease, the list continues with diabetes, leaky gut, certain cancers, and fatty liver.
In America, we’re seeing that firsthand. We’re “proudly” in first place in the sugar-consumption contest, soundly beating out Germany by more than 25%.
(Click image for original article at the Washington Post)
And that adds up to Americans being 26 pounds heavier on average than in the 1950’s and more than 70% of us adults being overweight, obese, or extremely obese.
Beware about aspartame (diet soda), saccarhin (sweet ‘n low), and sucralose (splenda) too – those are NOT healthy for you no matter what the FDA says. There’s something fishy about when 92% of the studies funded by aspartame companies say it’s healthy, while 100% of the third party studies said no way Jose. Got that little tid bit from The Unhealthy Truth.
You know what’s just silly about all this? We’ve got access to plenty of healthy sweeteners that will satisfy your sweet tooth – without spiking your blood sugar or your waistline.
Our 3 Go-To Healthy and Sugar Substitutes: Sucanat, Raw Honey, Real Maple Syrup
A combination of the three words sugar cane natural, sucanat is basically the unrefined version of white sugar. It still requires some processing, but nowhere near the amount of the stripped down table sugar endures. It’s usually sold organic and easy to find at health food stores and even some regular grocery stores.
Erin actually bought ours in bulk from Wholesome Sweeteners through a lady who got a group together from Church. Church = Discounts… among many other things much are more important than saving money.
The flavor isn’t exactly the same as sugar. It still carries the molasses content that is processed out of white sugar, giving it more depth of flavor and preserving dozens of minerals and nutrients most people are deficient in. It has an almost nutty flavor. Many people substitute it for white sugar and brown sugar in a 1:1 ratio.
The best uses for Sucanat are in foods with richer, deeper flavors, like BBQ sauce, chocolate cake, brownies, sprinkled over Lit’l Smokies and bacon, or a pinch tossed into spaghetti.
The nutrient profile is actually terrific. And please, never, ever eat a cup of sucanat – but this’ll give you some idea of the minerals and nutrients you get.
1 cup of sucanat gives you:
- More potassium than a banana
- More vitamin A than a cup of whole milk
- More calcium than a cup of mashed sweet potatoes
- More magnesium than ½ C of boiled spinach
Sucanat also gives you B vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus and trace amounts of other nutrients that most Americans are deficient in. However, it can still spike your blood sugar if you eat enough.
Raw honey, on the other hand, probably could be considered a health food! In fact, our doctor does call it a superfood and recommends a tablespoon or two per day. Erin actually didn’t really like honey until she tasted raw honey. Mmmm hmmm!
Raw honey’s been used for thousands of years for not only consumption, but also for its medicinal properties. It was used frequently for rubbing on wounds and studies have shown it to inhibit the growth of over 60 species of bacteria and even some fungi and viruses! That’s cool stuff.
Furthermore, it’s known to help with inflammation, especially of the respiratory tract (warm tea with honey for sore throats, anyone?) It’s also used to treat and prevent gastrointestinal diseases. In fact, one study says “Diarrhea and gastroenteritis are found to resolve quickly with honey.”
Despite its sweetness, scientists have observed that raw honey can even help with diabetes:
[Honey] stimulates insulin secretion, decreases blood glucose levels, elevates hemoglobin concentration and improves lipid profile.
In fact, 38 overweight individuals were given 70g of natural honey (which is a good chunk!) every day for 30 days. At the end, their overall blood profile looked better, and the researches concluded that natural honey reduces cardiovascular risk factors while not increasing body weight in overweight or obese subjects.
Raw Honey is basically the best sweetener known to man.
A sweetener that doesn’t make you gain weight, lowers heart attack risk factors, helps with diabetes, and does a million other things? Count us in!
Oh yeah, and it’s also reported to be anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, and helps with allergies because local raw honey is made from local pollen. Ingesting the pollen does something magical on your insides. Actually, just go check out this sweet infographic I made about raw honey and 50 sweet (pun intended) benefits.
For maximum effect of raw honey, it’s better not to cook with it. If you are going to bake, it’s still better than the highly processed stuff at the store, but the heat will kill off some of the enzymes and other living organisms that make honey so marvelous.
And it’s Glycemic Index? 30. That’s really freaking good! (White sugar is 100 btw).
We buy ours in bulk for a really good price from Dutson Honey Farm down in Delta, Utah. They’re kind of in the dark ages and don’t have a website but you can check them out on Facebook. Erin found them through a girl at Church… moral of the story is go to Church!
Real Maple Syrup
I dare you, right now, to go read the food label on the normal Aunt Jemima’s or Log Cabin syrup. It’s really not pretty.
Nowhere will it say “maple syrup” (because it’s not) and you’ll find “amazing” things like sugar, corn syrup, maple flavoring (whatever that is), and other goodies made in a lab. Basically no maple syrup is found in stuff most people call maple syrup.
With real maple syrup, we’re talking siphoning it directly from trees! We’re talking organic products that contain one ingredient:
Real Maple Syrup.
Unlike the factory made stuff, maple syrup carries many minerals (like sucanat) such as calcium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and selenium! It’s chock full of antioxidants, unleashing an army to heal inflammation and other internal damage.
Plus, it carries a Glycemic Index number of 54 – which ain’t bad for a sweetener. It’s not going to spike your blood sugar anywhere near what white sugar will.
We’ve already written an in-depth guide about how to buy the best maple syrup! Check it out! And no, we haven’t found anyone at Church who sells it in bulk. We usually buy ours from Costco or Winco.
If you want to take the guess work out of using sugar substitutes, then download our favorite recipe book for free – 5 Guilty Pleasure Recipes Without the Guilt. The sourdough cinnamon rolls are delectable if I do say so myself.
Are there other sugar substitutes out there?
Definitely! We’ve occasionally used Wholesome Sweetener brand organic sugar, organic powdered sugar, and organic brown sugar. Use these sparingly because they’re still a little more processed more than we would like. However, being organic makes a difference and Wholesome Sweetener is a terrific brand to buy from.
Other healthy options include stevia, coconut sugar, and fruit. Our lastest binge has been soaking oatmeal overnight in the crock pot on low with slices of apple and cinnamon. You don’t even need to add any sweetener to the oatmeal – said no one ever – until now.
Are you particular to some certain healthy sweeteners or sugar substitutes? Any we missed that you love? Let us know!