July 5, 2021 | Learning, Nutrition | 0 comments | Author: Ashley Dance
When it comes down to it, our bodies run on fat and sugar (glucose). That doesn’t mean we can eat fast food and feel good about it. All sugars are not created equal (or fats for that matter, but that’s another topic). And don’t get me started on that corn syrup commercial that says, “corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.” False. Erroneous, on both accounts.
Natural sweeteners contain vital minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Refined white sugar, whether from corn, cane, or sugar beets has none of those things. It only inflames all systems in the body. In fact, your body needs those minerals and vitamins to digest the sugar at all. Too much sugar can lead to an acidic environment in the body in general. This leads to the body eventually having to pull the needed materials from teeth and bones to process it. Cavities in teeth are the first sign of this, usually. Excess sugar is stored in the liver as glycogen to be converted into glucose. The liver, however, has a limited amount of space and will expand and inflate like a balloon when too much sugar is consumed. Once the liver is full, it is stored in places like the belly and booty. It can begin to be stored around other vital organs, affecting their performance. A study done in 2007 on rats found that refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
So what can we eat to satisfy that sweet tooth, fuel our bodies and provide essential minerals and vitamins? Quite a few things, actually. There are many unprocessed, delicious and nutritious sweeteners that you can use in place of white sugar.
The easiest one to exchange for sugar in baking is coconut sugar. It is a 1:1 ratio in recipes. So you don’t have to alter your recipe at all. If it calls for ½ cup of sugar, use ½ cup of coconut sugar instead. Here’s why: Coconut sugar (sometimes called coconut palm sugar) is low on the glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause a huge blood sugar (insulin) spike when eaten. So it is considered safe for diabetics. It is high in amino acids like glutamine that assists in maintaining proper pH in the body. Refined sugar causes the body to be acidic, but coconut sugar contains an amino acid helpful in keeping the body alkaline. It is also an important neurotransmitter. Coconut sugar contains essential B vitamins. In addition, it is rich in minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and manganese. The body cannot produce these minerals and they are important for prevention of disease, formation of bones and teeth, in nerve functions and enzyme systems.
Another sweet option is maple syrup. I mean real maple syrup, not Aunt Jemima (check the ingredients on that bottle…corn syrup and maple flavoring? Yuck). It, too, is rich in B vitamins and minerals. Thiamine (B1) is essential in cardiac function, reducing the effects of aging and for the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Maple syrup contains manganese, which is a strong antioxidant, protecting against free radicals. It is linked to proper thyroid and sex hormone production. It balances blood sugar as well. Manganese and zinc are powerful immune system boosters. Zinc protects the heart and plaque buildup in the arteries, helps in healing wounds and can help with fatigue. When buying maple syrup, you want to look for grade B. Grade B is darker and higher in nutrient content.
Raw honey is another option for liquid sweeteners. If it is heated, processed or pasteurized it loses its beneficial antioxidants, enzymes and vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, magnesium, potassium, calcium and sulfur. Raw honey is an alkaline forming food. It has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties, therefore it is an excellent thing to put on skin infections and wounds. It helps with acne and makes a great face-wash (it isn’t so sticky when wet). It strengthens the immune system, can help with allergies, and is very anti-inflammatory. It contains the necessary minerals and vitamins to be used by the body as an instant energy source. It’s a good sugar you want your body to run on. It is the only food that will never spoil. Make sure to get a good source of raw honey; the processed stuff in the store can contain pesticides, illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. Some is even mixed with the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. It should be thicker and darker than the kind in the bear-shaped bottles. It can be used in place of sugar in recipes; the amounts may differ slightly, though. It also dissolves well in your morning coffee…
You could also use Sucanat, which is unprocessed cane sugar. It stands for sugar-cane-natural. It is the truly raw sugar. That Sugar in the Raw brand is turbinado and is not actually raw. Sucanat is cane sugar that is not refined at all and retains its molasses content, which contains the minerals and vitamins. Iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium are all found in Sucanat. It is most like brown sugar, but can be used in place of white sugar as well. Conventional brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added back to it. Just leave it alone and benefit from the minerals! These minerals and vitamins help the body digest the sugar and prevent any of the damaging effects that refined sugar causes.
Of course, you can overdo it even with these good-for-you sweets (mostly because of what they get combined with), but you don’t have to go without dessert forever! With a few alterations, you can enjoy your favorite desserts without feeling guilty. I don’t think I need to tell you to stay far, far away from those artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose (Splenda) or saccharine. There’s no excuse to use the poison of white sugar anymore, just replace it with any of these options. Enjoy life and hand me that maple syrup sweetened cookie!