Sugar is sweet, but eating it has consequences.
According to Dr. Daniel Amen, sugar has numerous negative aspects. Among them is sugar is pro-inflammatory which is one major reason for chronic diseases. And sugar increases erratic brain cell firing which means the brain cells don't communicate well with each other. Perhaps most alarming, sugar is addictive.
"In one study using mice, they gave them cocaine, which they liked. Then they gave them sugar, which they also liked. But when given a choice, they preferred sugar," Amen said.
We do, however, need sugar--that is glucose--because it gives us energy. The body takes any kind of sugar we eat and changes it into glucose. So the challenge is to know what kind of sugar is good and which is bad. Below is a list of all the different kinds of sugars to look out for on ingredients' labels. And, we've included a list of healthy sweetener alternatives.
Dr. Amen said typical table sugar is made of 50% sucrose, and 50% fructose. "Your body can break down sucrose dramatically better than fructose," he said. "When you unwrap fructose from its fiber source, it becomes a toxin." He said, eat the orange, instead of drinking the orange juice.
Stop eating sugar, and you'll be surprised of the benefits. "After you stop taking sugar, you don't crave it anymore. You feel better, your mood is better, your skin is better, your memory improves," Dr. Amen said. "And people who have seizures, have fewer of them after they eliminate sugar."
There are healthier alternatives to satisfy the sweet tooth. However, as a general rule, artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Beware of ingredients named aspartame and saccharin.
And don't fall for agave-nectar says Dr. Amen. "It's fructose and that's not your friend."
The two preferred alternative sweeteners in the Amen household are stevia and brown rice syrup. Stevia is a naturally sweet herb native to Paraguay. It is non-caloric, and has been used as a natural sweetener and flavor enhancer for centuries. Brown rice syrup is made from sprouted brown rice.
When baking cookies, scones and cakes, try substituting sugars with applesauce which results in a moist and flavorful experience.
Try coconut sugar. It can almost be touted as a health food when comparing it to other sugars. With its mellow flavor, it has been the staple sweetener in South East Asia for a long time. It is considered a healthier sugar because of its low glycemic impact, and its significant amounts of potassium, magnesium, and zinc. It also boasts iron, B vitamins, and inositol, which is known for its impact on the central nervous system and the development of healthy cells. This sugar helps to manage pain and quell anxiety. Coconut sugar can be used in the same proportions as you would use regular sugar. Try it out in a favorite recipe and move refined sugar to the back shelf.
Check out this recipe!
Wholesome Coconut Banana Bread
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- ¾ cup quinoa flour
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp ground flax seed
- ½ cup unsweetened dried coconut
- 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9x3 loaf pan, set aside.
- Combine the flours, coconut sugar, spices, baking soda, salt, flax seed and dried coconut in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl combine the bananas, eggs, coconut oil and water.
- Mix until well incorporated and slightly fluffy. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and fold together until just combined.
- Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Let cool before turning the banana bread out of the pan.
- Slice and enjoy immediately.
- Wrap tightly and save for up to 4 days.
* Preferred alternatives
- * Agave - Derived from the blue agave cactus, agave syrup tastes similar to honey but it's low on the glycemic index.
- * Barley Malt -A sweet syrup with a strong malt flavor, derived from sprouted barley.
- Beet Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- * Brown Rice Syrup - A syrup made from sprouted brown rice.
- Cane Juice crystals
- Cane Sugar
- Caramel Color
- Confectionary Sugar
- Corn Sugar
- Corn Sweetener
- Corn Syrup
- Corn Syrup Solids
- * Date Sugar -A sweetner consisting of ground, dried dates. Can be substituted for other granulated sugars. It also adds moistness to baked goods.
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
- Granulated Sugar
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Invert Sugar
- Malt Syrup
- Maple Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Palm Sugar
- Raw Sugar
- Rice Syrup
- * Stevia - A naturally sweet herb native to Paraguay. It is non-caloric, and has been used as a natural sweetener and flavor enhancer for centuries
- Turbinado Sugar