Want something sweet? Find out what the healthiest natural sweeteners are!
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Whenever you start to eat a healthy real food diet, you get to eat a lot of really delicious foods-like butter, coconut oil, jasmine rice, grass fed hamburgers, and garden fresh vegetables. 🙂 But, there is a down side to eating healthy-regular sugar will need to be eliminated or at least eaten sparingly. At first, this is hard. But take heart! There are some sweeteners that are really healthy.
Real Food Sweeteners
There are actually quite a lot of real food sweeteners available. All of these are waaaaaay better than regular white or brown sugar. But, there are three sweeteners that really shine. We’ll get to them in a minute. But first here are 4 sweeteners which can replace white sugar and are quite tasty!
Maple Syrup–This is a delicious sweetener that is usually used over pancakes, but there are also some delicious baking recipes that use maple syrup.
Sucanat-Sucanat can usually be used to replace white or brown sugar in recipes. It is similar to brown sugar in flavor.
Dates-Dates can be used in some recipes as a sweetener. Though they can’t be easily substituted for regular sugar. There are some great recipes that use dates as a sweetener-like these date sweetened cookies.
All of the sweeteners I have mentioned so far are big strides ahead of white sugar. They are minimally processed and retain all of their vitamins and minerals. But, they could still cause problems if they were eaten too frequently.
If you want to eat something sweet more frequently, here are a 3 sweeteners which are healthy enough that you can use them a lot more often.
The Healthiest Natural Sweeteners
Stevia has little to no effect on blood sugar! It doesn’t feed gut pathogens-like candida or SIBO. There is even some evidence that stevia can kill pathogens like lyme disease.
Sweetleaf brand makes a good stevia. Many of the stevia brands have less than desirable ingredients in them. Sweetleaf has good ingredients-their stevia is just stevia and natural flavors. Sometimes natural flavors can mean MSG, but that is not true of Sweetleaf’s SteviaClear.
Some people have to adjust to the taste of stevia, but I enjoy it a lot-especially when I am cutting back on other sweeteners! If I am craving something sweet, I will eat some pecans with some coconut oil, stevia, and salt. Sometimes I add a little sucanat or honey.
Fruit can be added to recipes to help with the sweetness, and of course fruit is very healthy. It is full of vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients. Fruit can also be helpful with detox. Because fruit does have fiber it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes as easily as many other sweeteners.
Want to try using fruit as a sweetener? Here is a recipe that can be sweetened partly or fully with just fruit-Easy Fail Proof Custard.
Many healthy recipes use applesauce or another fruit puree instead of relying solely on sugar for sweetness. If you want to learn more about baking with fruit, you should check out the cookbook “Naturally Sweetened Treats”. About 1/4 of the recipes are sweetened ONLY with fruit, and have no additional sweetener of any kind. There are a lot of healthier desserts in this cookbook-check out all the yumminess here.
3. Raw Honey
Raw honey can help fight off infections like colds and flu. It can help boost immunity. Many other sweeteners can lower immunity. I try to stay away from all sweeteners besides honey when I am fighting any kind of illness.
I add raw honey to herbal teas when I am treating a cold or flu. Honey has the added benefit of easing sore throats and coughs.
For those that have digestion issues, honey can be beneficial. Many serious digestion issues like Crohn’s disease or IBS can be treated with healing diets. Healing diets include the SCD diet, paleo autoimmune protocol, and the low fodmap diet. All of these diets allow raw honey.
Although the amounts and types of honey are sometimes limited, it is still wonderful to have a sweetener that is helpful and not harmful. (Almost all other sweeteners are strictly prohibited while on the healing diets.)
Honey can help with sleep issues. When the liver runs out of glycogen, the brain searches for fuel and this can wake you up. Eating honey before bed helps with this because honey is a form of glycogen.
As you can see, honey is awesome! Honey (and stevia) are my go to sweeteners since I have been working on my digestion and hormones. I don’t eat lots of honey, because I don’t need to eat tons of carbs. But I am very glad to have found a sweetener that I know is helping my digestion and hormones.
All of the sweeteners I have mentioned are natural and healthier than white sugar, but the healthiest sweeteners of all are stevia, honey, and fruit. If you want minimal impact on your blood sugar, hormones, and digestion give these sweeteners a try!
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Disclaimer: This post is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or medical professional. I share only from my own experiences and research. Consult your own practitioner before making changes in your diet or supplements.