How To Choose A Healthy Sweetener
I was wandering through a department store the other day and happened on their display of “healthy sweeteners”. Seeing the diverse marketing techniques purporting their health benefits I could understand why many people do not know how to choose a healthy sweetener.
Most people realize that refined sugar is not good for you; however many are unaware of the health hazards ascribed to the yellow, pink and blue packets of artificial sweeteners.
Artificial Sweeteners May Cause Serious Health Problems
Last spring my gym class teacher was having a health crisis. She went from doctor to doctor and myriads of tests trying to find out what was wrong; not to mention a bunch of money. All she got was puzzled looks…and scarey possibilities…MS or Cancer to name a few.
Early in her health journey teacher shared with me she was a big diet coke drinker. I gave her some stats on aspartame and suggested she read up on Aspartame’s nasty side effects. Guess what she found out? “I’m well…through no doctor’s help. I found out I had Aspartame poisoning.” Gym teacher is not the first person I’ve met who have had terrible side effects from drinking and eating products containing those “safe” artificial sweeteners. One of my co-workers husband was a huge diet soda drinker…until they made him have seizures.
What Are Artificial Sweeteners
All artificial sweeteners are chemicals. They all fall into a class of chemicals called “Neurotoxins or Excitotoxins” basically these chemicals over-excite brain cells until they explode hmmm….. Negative reactions can be many…from MS type symptoms, loss of memory, neurological symptoms. Artificial sweeteners are also credited with upsetting the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria or flora in your intestines. This will affect your immune system, brain function and mood.
The bottom line is they don’t have any health benefits, only detriments so avoid them. (3)
My Number One Rule for all my clients…NEVER EVER EVER USE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS EVER AGAIN!
What About Refined Sugars?
Our My Busy Healthy Life participants eliminate sugar in Phase 2, the “Cleanse Phase”. They find their weight drops effortlessly and their personal medical symptoms such as pain, allergies, migraines, mood swings, depression and skin issues dramatically improve; it is typical to experience a 50-60% improvement in personal physical symptoms in the first 2 weeks.
Refined sugars, including the evil High Fructose Corn Syrup have no health benefits and many health dangers. In her book Suicide by Sugar, Nancy Appleton PhD states that more than 8 grams (2 teaspoons) of refined sugar reduces your immune system for 8 hours. JJ Virgin, author of The Sugar Impact Diet states the average person on a Western Diet eats approximately 22 grams of sugar a day…that’s 5+ teaspoons.
A few years ago I did a class for mothers and their pre-teen daughters. I had the girls give me a healthy menu for one day. This included yogurt, bagels, sandwiches, pasta and for a treat cookies and a soda…honestly in the Standard American Diet world it sounded healthy. We then looked up the grams of sugar in each item on the menu and measured the sugar into a bowl. The total sugar eaten on this “healthy diet” was ONE POUND! We were all shocked.
Sugar causes inflammation which equals pain. Sugar also messes with your neurotransmitters and causes depression. Since it reduces your immunity sugar consumption puts you at risk for all the flus and colds that circulate through school and work.
We recommend people get their “sweet treats” from Fresh Fruit rather than refined sugars.
So If I Shouldn’t Eat Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners.. What CAN I Eat?
We get natural sweetness from God’s Sweetness in fresh fruit on a daily basis. Fresh Raw Fruit not only offers satisfaction for your sweet tooth but many health benefits as well.
When you do need or want a sweet treat, the sweetener you choose can make a huge difference in your energy, pain and brain function and possibly save your life; however, there are so many choices, how can you decide which is really healthy? Diabetics of course need to be sure to limit these natural sweeteners as all sweeteners do affect blood sugar levels, even the artificial sweeteners.
The photo at the top of this post is from a local store, these are the sweeteners available in their “health food” section. Here’s my review on these sweeteners and my personal choice for healthy sweetness.
How To Choose A Healthy Sweetener
- Did God Make It or Did Man Make It? If it is a single ingredient food as my choices are below, God Made It. Man may alter it in order to extract it or make it useable but it was not developed in a lab.
- Does it have positive historical use? Fruit, Honey, Maple Syrup and Stevia have been used for centuries, other man-made sweeteners are only decades old.
- Does it have positive health benefits beyond sweet taste?
God’s Sweetness is provided for us in FRESH FRUIT!
Yep, Yummy Fresh Fruit. In our My Busy Healthy Life program our participants break their sugar addiction by replacing all forms of sugar and non sugar sweeteners with Fresh Fruit. Your body is satisfied with the natural sugars and therefore you don’t crave a bag of apples like you crave a bag of cookies or candy. Our My Busy Healthy Life participants exchange fresh fruit for refined sugar in the second week of their program.
Maureen’s depression disappeared when she eliminated sugar:
I have lost 17 1/2 lbs. in just over 1 month’s time. I still can’t believe how fast the weight came off!! My brain fog is gone and my annoying post nasal drip is no longer a problem! My mood is much more positive because sugar was causing me to be depressed. I used to crave sugar and chocolate bars. Read Maureen’s Story
Medjool Dates are wonderful in Raw Food Sweet Treats or baked goods as date paste.
A quick energy food for your active days, Medjool Dates are also a great source of Vitamin B6 and minerals Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Magnesium. Medjool dates are different from the dried sugary dates people eat at Christmas. They are large, soft and usually kept in the produce section.
I enjoy using Medjool dates to sweeten homemade almond milk, as a sweetener and binder in nut crusts on raw pies and as a date paste in my famous Sprouted Spelt Bread, found in our book Wonderfully Well, available on Amazon.com.
A quick treat that tastes just like pecan pie is a raw pecan tucked inside a Medjool date, crunchy smooth sweet goodness. 4 dates is a serving, however, they are quite rich so I can’t eat more than one at a time.
Medjool dates are always organic as pesticides and herbicides are not needed in the production of these sweet fruits.
Raw Local Honey provides amazing health benefits as well as sweetness.
Raw local honey, replete with enzymes that help you process the sugars in the honey is also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.
For some allergy sufferers, eating 1 teaspoon per day of raw local honey may help with seasonal allergies. If you have spring allergies use Clover Honey, Fall allergies use Wild Flower Honey. It is best to begin using the honey 3 months prior to the season your allergies occur.
Dr. Josh Axe, (Food Is Medicine (1) calls honey a Functional Food full of nutrients and with a glycemic load of only 10; about the same as a banana. Raw honey does not cause a sugar spike and elevated insulin levels like refined sugar.
It is SUPER important to know the source of your Raw Local Honey as many “honey bee” honey’s in the store are legally laced with high fructose corn syrup making them very bad choices. Google Raw Local Honey for your area, check your farmers market and your local health food stores for good sources of raw local honey. Remember RAW is an important factor…boiled and processed honey does not contain the same health benefits as raw.
Our book Wonderfully Well has information on how to convert recipes with sugar to raw local honey as well as recipes using raw local honey.
Pure Maple Syrup, Not To Be Mistaken For Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s
Another of God’s sweeteners, Pure Maple Syrup can be used in everything from coffee to apple pie. Science Daily (2) shared recent research from the University of Rhode Island on the health benefits of Pure Maple Syrup. At Christmas time I especially enjoy making almond milk hot chocolate sweetened with Pure Maple Syrup.
University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, who specializes in medicinal plant research, has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup.
Pure Canada Maple has a great info graphic on replacing Pure Maple Syrup for a number of different sweeteners.
You may also purchase maple syrup sugar; I have not personally used maple sugar.
Our My Busy Healthy Life participants learn to create what we call a “To-Go” bag; an insulated lunch bag with healthy condiments such as salad dressing, digestive enzymes and we keep a bottle of maple syrup in ours in case our celebration meal happens to be a pancake! Phil’s coffee buddies were surprised one day when he whipped out his own bottle of real maple syrup. Made for great table talk.
Pure Sweet Leaf Stevia makes anything sweet up to 300 times sweeter
Pure Sweet Leaf Stevia is just that…plain old Stevia. You can find tons of “enhanced” stevias in your grocery and health food store such as Stevia in the Raw, Nuvia, Truvia, Nuvia and a bunch of other “Stevia plus something else” products. It is important to read the INGREDIENTS on the labels of these products, not the food facts or advertising. Stevia combined with sugar, xylitol, etc. is NOT a healthy choice.
We use LIQUID PURE SWEET LEAF STEVIA as it is just what it says. The powdered forms by Sweet Leaf Stevia and the flavors contain junk. They didn’t used to…maybe the company sold out to a larger manufacturer…not sure.
It’s important to combine Stevia with another sweetener that has some form of sugar such as a little raw local honey or pure maple syrup.1 teaspoon of raw local honey or pure maple syrup and a few drops of Sweet Leaf Stevia make your drinks “Starbucks Sweet”.
If you use stevia alone without another sweetener your mouth will detect the sweetness, signal your pancreas that there is sugar coming, your pancreas will unnecessarily get ready to release insulin and the enzyme amylase to deal with the sugar coming in. Then your body will be flooded with insulin and release precious digestive enzymes unnecessarily.
You can learn to bake with stevia, however, be sure you choose a brand that is pure stevia and there is definitely a learning curve. I prefer to use raw local honey in my baked goods.
You can get a great deal on plain liquid Sweet Leaf Stevia at VitaCost or at most health food stores or markets.
Coconut Palm Sugar, a healthier brown sugar like sweetener
I keep a bag of Coconut Palm Sugar in the cupboard, however, I don’t use it often. It is wonderful for recipes where the strong “honey” flavor will affect the recipe. I sometimes combine Coconut Palm Sugar with raw local honey for my Apricot Cardamom Cranberries and an occasional Apple Crisp for company. It has a nice brown sugar flavor.
Use in baking, substitute as you would brown sugar. I recently made my Apricot Cardamom Cranberries and substituted coconut sugar for white sugar. It was amazing!
Coconut Palm Sugar also has more nutritional value than refined sugars, high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron and is a natural source of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. (4)
Monk Fruit or Lo Han
Another natural sweetener to be used in baked goods and recipes. Be sure and read the ingredients and make sure it is not combined with artificial sweeteners. This is something I have tasted but do not use.
Body Ecology has an eryithritol and Lo Han sweetener called Lankato that is said to work well with baked goods.
What About Xylitol and “Sugar Alcohols”
Some of the big names in “healthy weightloss” such as JJ Virgin and Trim Healthy Mamas use and promote xylitol and “sugar alcohols”. These are manufactured and refined chemical type sweeteners that are not “God Made” and do not have proven health history so I do not use or recommend these sweeteners. They are also known to cause gastric upset. I will say Trim Healthy Mamas sweeteners are non-GMO.
My Biggest Problem With Xylitol is that it is made from corn, usually genetically modified with the weed killer Round-Up, nuff said.
(1) Dr. Josh Axe, “Food Is Medicine”, http://draxe.com/the-many-health-benefits-of-raw-honey/
(2) Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100321182924.htm
(3) Dr. Janet Starr Hull http://www.janethull.com/about/aspartame.php
(4) Coconut Palm Sugar http://coconutpalmsugar.com/Health_Attributes.html