5 Sweeteners That Don’t Mess with Your Metabolism
Being in the business of food, we like to dissect all of the research and news surrounding ingredients as they pertain to our health and wellness. Sugar is a constant conversation amongst ourselves and our guests. Here’s a look at three natural sugars: honey dates, and maple syrup; and two sugar alternatives: stevia and erythritol. These are acceptable, but should be moderated in our diets.
Stevia: Stevia is a plant that has been around for 1500 years! It is often used for medicinal purposes in South American cultures (we love Dr Josh Axe’s article on Stevia). The important thing to keep in mind with stevia is that it should be organic to guarantee the highest quality. Look for 100% stevia, not stevia that is mixed in with other alternative ingredients. Stevia is free of calories and has been linked to several potential health benefits, including decreased cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and better blood sugar control. Wow! And it is 100x more sweet than regular sugar, so you don’t need to use much of it to get the sweetness you are looking for! While Organic Krush doesn’t bake with stevia, it is a source of sweetener that diabetics and others who are aiming to control weight and other health issues can and should take advantage of.
Erythritol: Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. It contains virtually no calories and has a zero glycemic index. The sneaky thing about Erythritol is that most of it has to be grown, and this is often done by growing it on GMO corn. It’s important to look for organic (are you tired of that message yet?!) And one other thing to look out for: how much is added to the energy drink or the dessert treat you are eating. If it is above 50 grams it may cause gut distress. A word on this from Dr Josh Axe: “Sugar alcohols pass through your body essentially untouched, much like dietary fiber does. This is why they can produce abdominal gas, bloating, and diarrhea in some individuals, as they are not completely absorbed by the body and are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine.”
Honey: For the first time this summer, I “grew” my own honey! It was the most fascinating project to watch the bees work. I had the help of a beekeeper to care for the hives and harvesting, and the results were incredible. Our honey tastes so smooth and perfectly sweet. At Organic Krush it is important to us to source all of our ingredients straight out of nature. Watching our bees work this summer was a reminder that when you eat close to the source, you access the finest nutrients. Honey has been scientifically proven to alleviate allergies, sleep problems, diabetes, and coughs. What a gift from nature! And since you need so little of it to sweeten your tea, coffee, or baked goods, you can control your blood sugar levels while getting nutrients you definitely would not get from sugar. A teaspoon or two a day is completely acceptable in a balanced diet.
Maple Syrup: At Organic Krush we tend to use maple syrup in our baking because it blends so well and adds just the right flavor. We love that it is so high in antioxidants as well as compounds that can help protect the brain by reducing oxidative stress, which is responsible for aging us at a quicker rate. We also love that maple syrup is high in zinc, which has become very well known recently for helping us all stay well and fight viruses. Maple syrup in its pure form won’t cause any digestive distress, which is possible from those alternative sugars. A teaspoon or two a day is completely acceptable in a balanced diet.
Dates: Medjool dates add such a nice touch to our diets as they are filled with calcium, fiber and tons of minerals and nutrients! We love using dates to sweeten a smoothie, as an afternoon snack filled with almond butter, or as a part of our energy truffles and cashew mylk. Most of us crave some sort of sweetness in our day. Dates (3 or 4 in a day is plenty) are the perfect snack to satisfy the craving. They tell your system that you are getting a “treat,” and you are doing it in a way that benefits your health. One striking bit of information is that dates have been shown to reduce cholesterol, because they “sweep” the plaque from your arteries. Alternative sugars can’t add that type of health benefit, which is why I will always recommend and lean towards the real deals!
Real food, close to nature and untouched by processing, means access to the minerals and nutrients our bodies’ need. As you fill your life with more and more whole ingredients, the unhealthy things you crave start to fall away. We love a diet spread across a wide array of nutrients, because they satiate at such a deep level!