Stevia, Agave, raw, coconut…
By now you have been seeing some of these words all over food advertising. Major companies are now capitalizing on the general public trying to stay away from refined and processed Sugar and turning to sugar alternatives. White or refined sugar creeps everywhere in our daily lives. We add it in our coffee, tea and if you consume soft drinks, the sugar is loaded in there too! The problem is we often don’t know how much sugar we are consuming on a daily basis and the effects that it can have on us, on our body and our brain.
Your body needs sugar for survival, but it has now become such a close companion to all of us that we don’t even know the effects it is having on our bodies. Over consumption has been linked to everything from tooth decay to obesity. North Americans on average consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day (twice the daily recommended amount)! Sometimes it may feel like the amount of sugar we consume is inevitable, but with this spike in the sugar trend, food companies are finally getting it; there are alternatives.
Taking control of how much sugar we consume should be something on everyone’s mind these days. Try opting out of something sweet each day and make a conscious choice. Whether it’s no sugar in your coffee or one less sugar then you typically have, make the attempt to lower your intake and take control. Sugar craves sugar. If you find yourself with a major sweet tooth, the more sweets you have and the more you give in to these cravings, the more your brain will crave. Lowering your sugar intake can help you to gain control of your cravings and eventually lead to no cravings at all. (Yay!)
What are the alternatives available to us?
When we have the choice to swap out the white, refined, processed sugar, here are some of the alternatives that are available to you at your local grocery or health food store.
- Stevia– this is a plant leaf herb that is native to South America and is 300 times sweeter then sugar. (You may have seen this recently advertised as being used by a major yogurt company.) This is a zero calorie item and a great option over sugar.
- Agave- this plant-based sweetener comes from the Blue Agave plant used to make tequila, native to Mexico. It contains 60 calories per tablespoon – versus 48 for table sugar – but because it is about 1.5 times sweeter, you can use less of it.
- Coconut Sugar- or coconut palm sugar. It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with Palm Sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree.
BUT buyers beware!
Be a smart consumer when it comes to buying anything. With recent popularity of sugar alternatives, companies are beginning to produce these items in masses. Always be aware of ingredients and additives into each product. Think: the less ingredients, the better. Also, be aware of ingredients you cannot pronounce or have no idea what they are! Do your research.
These are really only a few of the hundreds of sugar alternatives that are now available in your grocery and health food stores. With this little bit of information you may be able to keep making small changes in your life helping your get to your happiest, healthiest life possible! Keep it up!
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