Healthy(ish) Sugar Substitutes and Alternatives

Thought I’d write and share some tips on how to lower the sugar content of your diet without totally depriving yourself of the joys of sweet things. I put together some healthier alternatives below from careful research I’ve done (and testing!).
 
Most of you have heard by now that sugar (and refined carbs) are not a healthy part of our diet. For those that aren’t as familiar, let me share a little bit more about this before I get into the good alternatives.
 
Too much sugar is highly inflammatory in the body and is a hot bed for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It can disrupt the healthy functioning of insulin and other important hormones, and can cause weight gain by triggering the body to store fat, along with a whole host of other troubling consequences. In fact, high fructose corn syrup, the main sweetener in sugary soda and many other processed foods, is now believed to be one of the top disease creators on the planet. Highly processed grains, especially refined (or “white”) flours, quickly turn into sugar in your bloodstream as well, so they should be kept to a minimum.
 
However, it would certainly be no fun for most of us to fully avoid sweets in our life. Thankfully there are some tasty but still somewhat healthier options to sweeten your food for the occasional treat.
 

Three of the best alternatives are stevia, monk fruit, and allulose. 

These options contain no calories and won’t spike your blood sugar. Monk fruit and allulose looks like and converts into recipes just like sugar, and have a pleasant, sweet flavor not too dissimilar to refined sugar. Stevia comes now in many brands, and some have much more of an aftertaste than others. Look for a whole-foods source that isn’t overly processed for the best flavor and quality. The jury isn’t completely in on how these effect your body, but they are likely much better than real sugars.
 
You can check out my favorite foods shopping list, with links to some of these sweeteners.
 
Here are some other decent sugar substitutes, though they should still be used sparingly: 
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Maple Sugar
  • Raw Honey

It’s important to skip the bad stuff! 

Some of the big baddies are: cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices (yup, bad!), and anything labeled simply “sugar” on a label. There are over 60 known names for sweeteners, so it can be tricky to look just at ingredients, look at sugar content. If it has more than a gram or two, that can add up.
 
Artificial sweeteners should be completely avoided also! We are talking aspartame, saccharin, etc. They are not healthy. These substances can actually cause weight gain, they can wreak havoc on your metabolism, and new research is showing that they can even mess up your microbiome (probiotics), among many other troubling health consequences.
 
Hope this information helps you to enjoy an occasional sweet with some tasty alternatives, while cutting back on the bad stuff.
 
 
This kind of information is part of my upcoming new book Nourish Your Self Whole: A Guide to the Core Nutritional Pillars, with Achievable Steps for Vibrant Health . I’m so excited to share that it will finally be out, right as the new year kicks off. (It’s not available for pre-order yet, but please keep your eyes peeled.)
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