Food Focus: Natural Sweeteners

Come on, every once and awhile who doesn’t love a little sweet? I eat clean, but I know I do! The sweet flavor releases serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. But when it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda. Ladies, gents, I cannot stress this enough. AVOID these like the plague!

Since refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can spike blood sugar, which can often lead to cravings and mood & energy fluctuations. Using natural sweeteners can reduce cravings for sugary things.

Here are some natural sweeteners I often use when substituting since white sugar (as my guests can tell you) doesn't often exist in my house.

• Raw Honey (local from your farmers' market is best to help with seasonal allergies!)

• Maple Syrup (pure, any grade depending on taste)

• Blackstrap Molasses

• Stevia

• Dates

• Coconut Sugar

• Brown Rice Syrup

• Real Fruit Jam

Since they are all approximately 1.5 times sweeter than refined sugar, use less. You will be able to find them in most supermarkets or natural food stores. When replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners in a recipe, reduce the amounts of other liquids.

Sources & Additional Reading:

Institute for Integrative Nutrition, March 2011.

https://draxe.com, May 2017.

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© 2020 by Jes Royston, Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach