The holidays are here and sugar is in full effect for the next six weeks. Eating and drinking refined sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike and then fall, leaving you feeling tired, moody, hungry, and fat.
Glucose, Fructose and Sucrose are sugar carbohydrates that are in natural as well as processed foods. Our bodies are so amazing to know the difference of each and process them all differently.
• GLUCOSE is our body’s preferred energy source, known as blood sugar. Our body processes most carbohydrates we eat into glucose, either to use immediately or store for future energy.
• FRUCTOSE is found in natural foods like fruits and vegetables as well as added to various drinks like soda and fruit flavored drinks, but isn’t a preferred energy source. It only metabolized in the liver, and acts more like fat in the body rather than other carbohydrates.
• SUCROSE is known as table sugar. Fruits and vegetables have natural sucrose and when consumed they are broken down into glucose and fructose. The body uses the glucose and if it needs more energy, it will use the fructose, while the remaining will go into fat synthesis.
Luckily, people are becoming more aware of the negative effects of sugar on their health and waistline, but for an occasional treat, here are some natural sugar alternatives:
1. MAPLE SYRUP
Sap from maple trees, its low in fructose, high in sucrose and contains antioxidants.
Use in: oatmeal, greek yogurt, pancakes, and for baking. Use ¾ of a cup for 1 cup of sugar.
2. AGAVE NECTAR
Sap from the leaves of the blue agave plant, it’s very sweet, higher in sugar content than high fructose corn syrup, so you don’t need much. This also means that it will spike your blood sugar faster than white sugar, so beware of the effects of it.
Use in: smoothies, margaritas, baking, etc. Use 2/3 cup for 1 cup of sugar.
A byproduct of sugar cane, rich in nutrients (especially iron), very gooey, and high in fructose.
Use in: Baking (I love molasses cookies), ginger bread, and marinades.
Use 1 cup to 1/3 cup of brown sugar.
Leaves of a stevia plant, it has no calories and doesn’t raise your blood sugar. Similar to artificial sweeteners, it will make you crave MORE sugar, but it’s natural and has some health benefits like lowering blood pressure and blood sugar (a great natural alternative for people with diabetes).
Use in: coffee, tea, smoothies, baking, etc. Use 1 tsp to 1 cup of sugar.
Flower nectar collected from bees, broken down into sugar and stored into honeycomb. It’s full of nutrients but also very high in fructose. Use in: tea, coffee, oatmeal, soothe a sore throat, baking, and makes a great marinade. Use ½ cup to 1 cup of sugar.
6. COCONUT SUGAR
Sap of coconut palm, low in fructose, high in nutrients, and similar to brown sugar.
Use in: baking, oatmeal, and cooking. Don’t worry, it won’t make your recipes taste like coconut! Use 1 cup for 1 cup of brown sugar.
I hope you enjoy exploring with more natural sugar alternatives. Remember that they are STILL SUGAR (just not processed like white table sugar) and still contain fructose which can still be harmful to your health, especially if you consume them in excess.