Let me ask you this: do you think sugar is present only in sweets and candies? Or do you think there are other sources of sugar as well?
If you answered the second question with “yes,” keep reading. We will dissect some of the hidden sugar sources, and find healthy alternatives for sugar.
The biggest reason you’re not losing weight and staying slim is sugar. You might think that if you’re working out properly and you’re staying away from sweets, that should be enough. Well, sadly, it’s not. What we should be eating is one of the biggest debates among nutritionists and health experts.
There have been several diets in the past 50 years, from diet pills to weight loss clubs to liquid diets and blood type diets. In the past few years, Paleo and raw food diets are the gold standard.
But it all comes down to one simple principle: eliminate sugar from your diet, and you should be fine. Sugar (or, should we say, the obsession with sugar) is the reason two-thirds of the adult population in the United States is considered overweight.
Is there anything worse than sugar?
We’ve seen the evolution of sugar during the past few years. Sugar isn’t sugar anymore. Despite trying everything we can to dismiss sugar, and even enacting a law that requires companies to label sugar on their products, Americans are eating more sugar than ever. That’s because companies have found a way to replace sugar with corn-based sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup. You can find high-fructose corn syrup in almost every product on the shelves.
As the go-to sweetener for processed foods, corn syrup is a GMO food that was modified to withstand large doses of herbicides. And studies have shown that corn syrup is linked to an increased risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Due to its low cost and high concentration, corn syrup is very appealing to manufacturers.
What is the solution to the sugar problem?
With all that talk about how sugar is bad and all the diseases linked to sugar intake, the logical question is: what about an alternative? Is there a sweetener that contains natural sugar that will not cause obesity and cardiovascular problems?
As in most cases, the answer is in nature. There are many natural sweeteners you can find and use to add a sweet touch to your dish. Even better, all of the sweeteners on this list will improve your health due to their natural health benefits.
The best part about xylitol is you get the same sweetness as with sugar, but with only 40% of the calories. Because of its insane sweetening ability, xylitol is becoming one of the most popular sweeteners. The product is basically sugar alcohol derived from xylose, a crystalline sugar found in birch bark.
Health-conscious consumers and people on a low-carb diet love xylitol. You can consume it guilt-free, because it brings just a quarter of the carbs found in cane sugar. Another benefit of xylitol is that unlike other synthetic sweeteners, it’s natural.
In nature, the sugar is found in fruits like raspberries and vegetables like corn. The sweetener is even recommended for diabetics because of its low glycemic rating of just 13. Because of that, our body metabolizes xylitol eight times slower than regular sugar. And the best part is, we metabolize it independently from insulin in the gut.
Even the dental community, which is strict regarding sugar consumption, recommends xylitol, as studies found that it can reduce plaque build-up by 80%. The only downside to xylitol is that the sugar has a laxative effect. Because of this, the recommendation is you start slowly and look for a manufacturer that produces it from birch. Last, but not least, make sure to keep it away from dogs, as it can be toxic to their digestive system.
In the past few years, stevia became the de facto gold standard for natural sweeteners. Because it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar, and has no caloric content, stevia’s popularity is increasing. Native people have used stevia as a sweetener for centuries, but wasn’t until the 1990s that stevia became popular.
Several studies have researched the benefits of stevia. And the result is almost always the same: stevia is a suitable, calorie-free sweetener that has therapeutic and pharmacological effects. Stevia is praised for its anticancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antihypertensive properties.
Despite being a sweetener, stevia reduces blood sugar and blood pressure. By doing that, it effectively reduces the risk of diabetes.
And the best part is, we are long past the unpleasant, strong-tasting plant extract. Nowadays, there are many formulations available in health food stores that are pleasantly tasteful.
3. Raw honey
When you look for a natural solution, it’s only logical that you find the most natural sweetener of all. According to some studies, raw honey contains close to 200 health-promoting substances. Rich in phytonutrients, raw honey is renowned for its powerful health properties and benefits.
Just make sure you consume raw, unfiltered honey and not the pasteurized version you find on grocery store shelves. Commercially-produced honey is heated to kill potentially harmful bacteria, but that also kills the good bacteria and vital living enzymes.
Molasses can be classified as the “thick, brown syrup that is the end product of boiling sugar cane.” The difference between molasses and cane sugar is molasses’ high nutritional value. Just a 3.5-ounce serving of molasses contains one-quarter of your daily recommended dose of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, and B vitamins. And you get the nutritional value without much sugar.
For years, molasses has been praised as a popular folk remedy. It can treat anything from menstrual cramps to constipation. One of the old wives’ tales is that molasses can keep your natural youth and beauty for ages. In other words, molasses is the elixir of life.
But back to scientific research: molasses contain polyphenols, which are plant compounds with antioxidant properties. It also contains minerals like iron, calcium, and copper. All that being said, molasses is great for maintaining healthy blood and bones. Pregnant and nursing women can enjoy molasses guilt- and fear-free.
Consuming any of these four alternatives to traditional sugar will help you lose weight. We mentioned at the beginning that sugar is the biggest obstacle to a lean body. Well, that applies only to cane sugar. When you consume natural sweeteners that are low in carbs, your metabolism works better and you can lose that weight around your belly.