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 that really shine (Skip down to the “Healthiest Natural Sweeteners” if you want to find out which three :)).
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.
Coconut Sugar-This sweetener works as a 1:1 substitute for regular sugar in recipes.
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 these sweeteners are big strides ahead of white sugar. They are minimally processed and retain all of their vitamins and minerals. But, if you want even healthier sweeteners, keep reading.There are a couple sweeteners which are healthy enough that you can use them a lot more often. Obviously, the sweeteners mentioned so far are still “sugary”-you wouldn’t want to eat tons of them!
The Healthiest Natural Sweeteners
The superstars of healthy sweeteners are:
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.
My favorite type of stevia is Nunaturals stevia extract. It has the best taste and it is healthy. Many of the stevia brands have less than desirable ingredients in them. Nunaturals is just stevia extract and glycerine.
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.
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.