Sugar has become a diet staple, but high consumption is bad for your health. As you know, too much sugar intake can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also causes high levels of fat and cholesterol in your blood.
If you’re stuck in an endless cycle of crazy sweet cravings, you should satisfy them with natural sweetener alternatives. There are so many types of natural sweeteners to liven up your coffee, tea, or baked goods. Some of the most popular are stevia, maple syrup, raw honey, date sugar, and agave nectar. These sweet choices are healthier than processed sugar or Splenda.
My natural sweeteners of choice include stevia, pure honey, and maple syrup, which are easily found in any grocery store and are not contaminated with chemicals or added enzymes. These healthy alternatives to processed sugar should be consumed in moderation.
(Remember always to read the labels first. Food containing high fructose corn syrup triggers overeating and has lots of calories. Avoid all cereals, processed foods, and sweeteners with high fructose corn syrup!)
Looking for something sweet and healthy to stir into your drinks? Stevia is the healthiest choice, and amazingly it has 0 calories. The stevia plant is a naturally sweet herb. Stevia-based sweeteners are sold in granular or liquid form. It ranks zero on the glycemic index, so it won’t cause any fluctuations of your blood sugar. Because it’s much sweeter than sugar, you don’t need much for flavor. It’s especially delicious with fruit, dairy foods, and coffee. Stevia is one of the safest, most natural, calorie-free sweeteners on the market today (Dr. Oz recommends stevia in a segment called “Break Your Artificial Sweetener Addiction”.)
Most of the time, people use maple syrup on top of pancakes, but it can be used as a substitute for sugar in many ways and is all-natural. It has a delicious, caramel flavor which goes perfectly with oatmeal or yogurt. You can purchase unsweetened Greek yogurt and pour just a little bit of maple syrup on it, and it’s delicious! Maple syrup brings benefits to the body: it’s known for reducing soreness and is an excellent source of manganese, which helps repair muscle and cell damage and keeps bones strong.
Honey has been used as a sugar substitute for centuries and is easily available. It’s nature’s miracle with numerous benefits for your health, skin, and various ailments. You can mix it in milk, hot tea, or coffee, or spread it on bread for a great breakfast. If you’re on a weight loss diet, you can substitute honey for sugar because it will provide you with energy and has a low glycemic index, i.e., it’s less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. But don’t binge on honey because it’s high in calories (64 calories per tablespoon). Use just a little honey in its pure form only to sweeten your favorite dishes and drinks. It’s sugary, but a healthy kind of sugary. Table sugar on the other hand has no nutrient value other than empty carbs, while honey packs nutrients as well as an energy boost.
Curbing Sugar Cravings
If you’re having a sugar craving, the best solution would be a piece of fruit since the fiber will help with digestion and satiate your sweet tooth. Fruits contain natural sugar and are much healthier than any refined sweets. Some fruits with a low glycemic index include apples, peaches, plums, pears, berries, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
Use sweet in a smart way and get used to small, sweet quantities!
Diet tip by Michelle Blaga, social media and blog contributor at Lucille Roberts.