Why do we crave sugar, and is there anything we can do about it? Part II
In my previous blog, I mentioned why we crave sugar so much, and that it really isn’t always our “fault” when we cannot resist our sweet cravings. Today I would like to tell you about healthier sugar substitutes. Because, let’s face it, even once we managed to take care of our food sensitivities, adrenal fatigue, monthly hormonal changes (in women), and we got rid of our parasites, Candida (a type of yeast), and bacterial overgrowth, we still enjoy the occasional treat, right? And even when we balance out blood sugar levels with protein, fat, and fiber and include probiotic foods to reduce our sweet cravings, we still fantasize about delicious desserts (at least I do). And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as we do it occasionally and don’t consume crazy amounts of the tempting sweetness.
For this reason, I thought it would be helpful to talk about other healthier ways to sweeten your day besides sugar in this second part of my sugar blog.
My 5 favorite sugar alternatives:
- Raw honey
Raw honey contains natural antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium. Vitamins found in honey include vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin. In addition, the certain compounds contained in honey help neutralize damaging free radical activity. Benefits of raw honey include:
- Promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestine
- Soothes and heals skin wounds
- Blocks free radicals
- Aids sleep
- Counters pollen allergies
- Reduces homocysteine levels to maintain a healthy heartNote: Commercial honey is often heavily processed and refined. Excessive heat destroys the natural enzymes and vitamins in honey. Filtering and processing eliminate> many of the beneficial phytonutrients including pollen.
Dates are loaded with potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B6. In addition, they are high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes colon health.
- Maple syrup
Maple syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants, which help fight off inflammation and might even help protect us against certain cancers (select darker, grade B syrup). In addition, it contains the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus sodium, potassium, and zinc, and the vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. And finally, it raises your blood sugar less due to its lower glycemic index compared to table sugar.
- Blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses is high in iron, which helps with anemia. It is also packed with potassium. Potassium-rich foods help lower systolic blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and support a healthy cardiovascular system. Its B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium can help combatting stress and anxiety. Due to its relatively low glycemic index and chromium content (which plays an important role in blood sugar balance), blackstrap molasses helps stabilizing blood sugar levels. In addition, it is high in antioxidants, and, therefore, helps reduce inflammation and risk of developing certain cancers.
- Green leaf stevia
Green leaf stevia is a no-calorie, natural sweetener and is the least processed of all types of stevia. It makes a good temporary alternative to help overcome your sugar cravings. But, not all stevia is created equal. Avoid altered stevia (such as Truvia) since it is chemically processed and contains several additives.
Your 3 action steps:
- Whenever you need a little extra sweetness, choose one of the 5 healthier sugar alternatives. Don’t be afraid to try something new. For example, if you have never baked with dates or used them in a smoothie before, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
- Go to the recipes page and check out my black bean brownie recipe. It contains nutrient-rich maple syrup, healthy coconut oil, and (thanks to the beans) is high in fiber.
- Stay tuned for my next blog in two weeks and find out why you should NEVER!!! Use artificial sweetener as a sugar substitute.