Sugar is Good for You, Seriously

Do you know that sugar is bad for you,

but you still consume it because it is so hard to resist?

Do you wish you could eat all that sweet stuff without any guilt?

While I can’t promise you that I can completely alleviate feelings of guilt when you eat sugary snacks, I promise to introduce you to better sugars.

And hopefully, you will feel better about your sweet treats.

So, you can happily enjoy an occasional sweet snack.  Because…

 

Sugar Is an Excellent Source of Vital Nutrients.


Not white and chemically refined sugar but others that are perfect substitutes for white sugar.  These healthy sugars are full of vitamins and nutrients and you can safely use them in your kitchen.

By the way, conventional brown sugar is the same as white sugar just colored with molasses, so nutritionally it is not much different. 1

 

Good Sugars

 

I would like to introduce you to several substitutes to conventional white sugar.  Keep in mind, most sugars below are described as being : released slowly in the blood stream or not causing a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, they are also described as having a slow absorption rate or being metabolized slowly.  They take longer to digest and do not cause a sugar high that simple sugars do.

 

Why Is This Important?

 

Because a rapid increase in blood sugar levels can make you, as well as your children hyper. A spike in blood sugars levels will give you an energy lift, but also has the tendency to drop off rapidly with a corresponding ‘crash’ in energy levels. Refined white sugar also promotes weight gain, and is over all, unhealthy. 2

 

Most Sugars Originate From Sugarcane Juice

 

Sugarcane juice contains about fifteen percent sugar, the rest of the juice contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, iron and zinc.  It also contains vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 plus a high concentration of phyto-nutrients including chlorophyll, antioxidants, proteins, soluble fiber and other healthy compounds.3,4

Unrefined cane sugars not only have an excellent nutritional profile but also help to stabilize sugar levels in diabetics, assisting in weight loss, and promote good kidney function. 3,4

Keep in mind that the less a sugar is refined, the more health benefits it will have, while the more refined a sugar is, the less its health benefits tend to be.  Highly refined white sugar doesn’t contain any of the benefits mentioned above.

 

What Are Your Options?

 

Natural sugars have a wonderful sweet and aromatic smell, like flowers, fruits and are very enticing.  Their flavours are rich and complex.

 

Organic Blond Sugar

 

Is a minimally processed organic sugar with a light tan natural colour and a mild flavour profile, which can substitute for refined white sugar.

Organic sugar cane is grown under strict organic guidelines that insure a positive impact on our environment.

Natural lime is used in the clarifying process, as opposed to animal or vegetable flocculent.

This sugar is not bleached or de-colorized providing for its natural light tan color and pleasant flavour.

It also retains trace elements originally found in the cane juice. 5

 

Demerara Sugar

 

Demerara sugar is a derivative of unrefined cane juice and has a tan or yellow color. It has a rich, creamy molasses-like flavor which enhances baked goods.

The large grains also remain crunchy through baking which makes demerara sugar a great choice for toppings on scones and other baked goods which might otherwise have a uniform texture.

 

Turbinado

 

Is similar to Demerara sugar, Turbinado sugar is also a type of relatively unprocessed cane sugar, unrefined and crystallized through evaporation. The crystals tend to be large and have an off-white color. It works well as a substitute for plain white sugar in just about all recipes.

 

Muscovado sugar

 

Muscovado sugar is the least refined sugar of all cane sugars in which the molasses is not removed. It usually comes labelled ‘light’ or ‘dark’ (with more molasses).

Muscovado sugar got its name from the Spanish word mascabado meaning unrefined. Known as the “poor man’s sugar” because of its coarse texture and unrefined appearance. It is a common sweetener in South America and South East Asia, but now it is making its way to North America.4

Muscovado sugar tends to be sticky and can be used just like brown sugar.  It is also known as organic brown sugar.

 

Coconut sugar

 

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut flowers. I has a delicate flavour and smells like flowers.  It may come in various forms, granulated, sugar blocks or a soft paste. I personally like it granulated, so I can substitute it easily in all recipes.

Coconut sugar contains beneficial micro nutrients as well as minerals such as:  nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, chlorine, magnesium and sulphur.

 

Palm sugar

 

Palm sugar is extracted from the sap of date palm trees and Palmyra Palms.  It is high in amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron and has some vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6. It also has a slow absorption rate.

 

Date sugar

 

Date sugar is not really a sugar as it is made from ground, dehydrated dates containing all the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the fruit. Date sugar is rich in nutrients and is metabolized slowly.

 

Stevia

 

Stevia is a plant based sweetener. It is a perennial plant, that is adapted to the North American environment. You can buy an actual plant and let it grow in your garden or on your window sill.

Stevia is:

100% Natural
Tastes Almost 300% SWEETER than white sugar
Has ZERO calories, and most importantly,
DOES NOT cause an increase in blood sugar levels 6

Stevia comes in different forms, powder, liquid and dry or fresh leaves.  I like using fresh leaves to sweeten my summer ice teas.

 

Liquid sugar substitutes


Maple syrup

 

Although maple syrup is less refined than white sugar, it is basically a sugar equivalent. It has a tiny amount of minerals and vitamins.

 

Barley malt syrup

 

Barley malt syrup is made from sprouted barley.  The sugars in barley malt syrup are complex this is why they are released slowly into the body. It has trace amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein.

 

Brown rice syrup

 

Brown rice syrup is made from cooked brown rice by converting starches into sugar.   Brown rice syrup is a complex sugar so it takes longer to digest.

 

Molasses

 

Molasses is a by-product of sugar cane or beet sugar refining. High in B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chromium, manganese, zinc and iron.  One tablespoon of Blackstrap molasses provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients.

When you buy molasses, the blackstrap variety is the most beneficial, because it contains the least amount of sugar and the highest amount of minerals.

Also, when you buy molasses, make sure that it doesn’t contain added sulphur, which is used as a preservative for molasses extracted from young sugar cane. As sulphur can be toxic in high doses.

 

Honey

 

Honey has been used for thousands of years as a natural antibiotic.  Researcher Dr. Shona Blair at the Sydney University School of Molecular and Microbial Bio-Sciences, has now shown the unusual antibacterial activity of honey leading to a greater understanding of the ability of honey to kill pathogenic bacteria through several different mechanisms. 7

Honey not only possesses significant antibacterial activity, it has also been shown to actively promote healing by directly stimulating human cells that are important in the immune response to help disease and wounds heal. 7

 

Consider Honey for Your Home First Aid Kit

 

Raw Honey is proven to be effective when treating a mild burn, sunburn, or small wound.  It helps to draw fluid away from the wound and suppress the growth of micro organisms. 8

Part of what gives raw honey its antibacterial properties is an enzyme called glucose oxidize, which the worker bees excrete into the nectar. This enzyme releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with a wound.

Heating honey will destroy this precious enzyme that is why you want to only use raw honey.

 

Did I cover every kind of sugar available?

 

Probably not, there are more sugars on the market and new and improved sugars appearing every day.  I am happy to introduce you to the above alternatives so you can add them to your diet. :)

 

Use Caution

 

Depending on the use, you may or may not be able to substitute a sweeter of your choice for white sugar.

When baking, be careful, the higher moisture content of raw sugar can change the consistency of baked goods. And a few table spoons of stevia will give you a desired sweetness in your cake but it will not substitute for volume of the dry ingredients needed to bring cake to the right consistency.

Raw sugar also hardens and dries out more easily than table sugar so they should be carefully stored.  Keep them in their original packaging which is usually a ziplock package or transfer to an air tight container. I use Maison jars for this purpose.

 

In moderation, of course.

 

Does it mean that you can eat natural sugar all you want,

of course not.

My point here to substitute unhealthy for healthy sugars.

And use them in moderation.

 

Dr. Price is a natural health pioneer known for his work ‘Wise Traditions‘, who noticed some similarities between the native diets that allowed these people to thrive. Among them:

The foods were natural, unprocessed, and organic (containing no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup). 8

 

Happy and ‘healthy sweet’ years and many months ahead :)

If you like this article, you may also like: GMO Study Corn Syrup and How it Effects You and Your Children and What To Do About It


 


 

Source:

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/12/health/nutrition/12real.html

2 http://www.zonediet.com/blog/2011/02/when-is-a-diet-not-a-diet/

3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscovado

4 http://www.naturalhealth365.com/nutrition_news/real-sugar.html

5 http://www.naturescargo.ca/cane.html

6 http://www.mercola.com/Downloads/bonus/stevia-natural-safe-sugar-alternative/report.aspx

7 http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_9029.cfm

8 http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/10/06/the-greatest-nutrition-researcher-of-the-twentieth-century.aspx

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002426.htm

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-demerara-sugar.htm#lbss:

http://bakingbites.com/2008/01/what-are-demerara-turbinado-and-muscovado-sugars/

http://www.thekitchn.com/ingredient-spotlight-dark-brow-115399

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this great round up! I have been using Demara sugar for a while now and love it, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was other than it was vegan, kosher, organic, and super sweet and yummy. :-) It makes some of the best cookies and muffins I have ever tasted.

    A balanced approach to sugar is not only more healthy, but more fun too. Thanks!

    • Tania Belkin /

      @Rivka:
      Rivka,
      Thank you!
      It is a good sugar. I use it occasionally. I remember when I saw this sugar for the first time. I was rather taken by the beauty of the large golden crystals. The crystals looked so pristine and so attractive. Plus it has a very pleasant smell and taste.

  2. Great post! Why eat refined sugar stripped of nutrition & taste? Did you know that glucose which is the fundamental molecule of sugar is the preferred food of the brain. So why not consume quality sugars that feed both the brain & the body?

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