Sugar, sugar it’s everywhere! In packages that claim to be natural and healthy, often there is 3 to 4 different types of sugar. In dehydrated fruits, companies add extra sugar, vitamins can be filled with it too, and it’s even in our ketchup. Ladies and gentlemen, sugar seems almost inescapable!
Studies have proven that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. It sounds harsh and scary— but this is the truth. Wouldn’t you like to know that you have been secretly introduced to an addiction that has changed all of your taste buds and is harming your body? Eating too much sugar has been proven to increase your risks of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and lead to problems with your gut. All illnesses from a minor flu to a cancer are fueled by sugar. Sugar causes inflammation in our body and illnesses thrive on that.
My number one advice with sugar is go easy on it. It is important to be conscious of it, because foods like pasta – essentially carbohydrates- turn into sugar when processed in our bodies. Even if you might not be ingesting sugar directly, your blood sugar levels can still spike through certain foods. We should monitor the glycemic index of each food to have a clear understanding of how much our blood sugar will rise.
The American Heart Association recommends for daily consumption:
- No more than 6 teaspoons, equal to 24 grams of sugar, for most women
- No more than 9 teaspoons, equal to 36 grams of sugar, for most men.
* For reference a can of Coca-cola has 33 grams of sugar!
While staying completely off sugar is not a realistic goal, eating the right kind of sugar is something we can control. Fructose is the sugar from fruit, the most natural occurring form of sugar, and I firmly believe fruits are highly beneficial for us, even with their sugar content. Fructose has a low glycemic index, but can leave us feeling hungry because it doesn’t shut off the hormone that indicates that we are satisfied. Be conscious of this when eating fruits; I often pair them with nuts, some kind of superfoods, or almond butter to keep me feeling satisfied longer.
Food companies try to sneak more sugar in our food with all sorts of names. They know it makes us think our food tastes better so we keep buying their products. Here’s a list of disguised sugar names to help you detect their many forms:
- Cane juice
- Beet sugar
- Fruit juice
- Rice syrup
- Brown sugar
- Confectioner’s powdered sugar
- Corn syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- White granulated sugar
Since refined sugar has no nutritional advantage, I opt for healthy alternatives that contain antioxidants and minerals as well. Here are some healthy swaps for cooking at home or to change sugar in your coffee with a more healthy option. Better yet, enjoy your coffee strong without added ingredients.
Coconut sugar is one of my favorite. It comes straight from the coconut nectar and doesn’t need too much processing.
Agave has become very popular It is made from the agave plant- it is very high in fructose so consumption should be moderate.
Maple syrup or honey have a lower glycemic index compared to sugar and contain lots of antioxidants which are beneficial to our health. Still should be used in moderations and better yet raw from a pure source.
Dates are my favorite way to sweeten a dessert recipe. They are healthy and come straight from nature.
Stevia, advertised as zero calorie, stevia comes from a leaf and they make a powder out of it or a liquid from. It is much sweeter than sugar so it should be used in moderation. Personally the taste is very different so it alters the recipes.
Monk fruit: the new in! People are starting to talk more and more about monk fruit. It comes from a plant from Asia and is naturally sweet. Much sweeter than sugar so it should be used in fewer quantities.
In general, I would recommend doing a detox from sugar for 1 or 2 weeks. Staying off all types of sugar to reset your taste buds and get used to being satisfied with less sugar. Your body will go back to appreciating the natural flavors without having to add anything extra. Plus, people who do these detoxes loose weight, clear up their skin, and improve their digestion. What an overall, healthy win.