How can something taste so good but be so bad for you? The answer is simple! Sugar promotes inflammation which in turn promotes infection, imbalanced hormones, and the development of chronic inflammatory diseases such as: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and/or cancer. Therefore I highly recommend that you eliminate sugar from your diet! Believe me, I know this is very difficult to do. (Hello chocolate chip cookies for my mid-afternoon snack!) However, it is not impossible to do! Switch to healthier sugar substitutes.
Here are the most common questions I get asked about sugar substitutes:
My medical doctor told me that I should switch to agave nectar as a sugar substitute. Is this any good?
Agave nectar/syrup is derived from the sap of the agave plant. Once most of the sap is chemically processed, it becomes a fructose syrup. Fructose is what promotes inflammation as discussed. This is even the case when it is marked as being raw! How is this allowed? This is not regulated by the government. So this is definitely not one of the better sugar substitutes!
What about honey or maple syrup? That is natural right?
When it comes to maple syrup or honey, most people are misinformed . If you know the exact source of the honey or maple and you know it is 100% organic, then yes, it is okay – in moderation. This does not mean you can substitute it for sugar at a 1:1 ratio. Although this is a natural type of sugar, it can still increase your risk for insulin resistance. Therefore, you should only have this when you absolutely need this. If you are buying conventional honey or maple syrup from your local supermarket, you can bet that it has been modified within a laboratory setting to convert it into a high fructose syrup. Again, this is BAD!
What about Splenda?
If you are still using Splenda or any other type of Aspartame sweetener, dispose of it right away! This is a proven neurotoxin. This means it damages your nerves! We now know that Aspartame use can cause cancer, birth defects, diabetes, and epilepsy. Enough said.
So basically there is nothing I can use as an alternative?
Of course there is! The best alternative is organic stevia. Make sure it is organic, or else it is most likely genetically modified. Stevia is a natural, healthy sugar substitute! Different brands of stevia will have different tastes – this depends on what part of the stevia plant they use in their production. You have to experiment with this. People tend to find stevia bitter in taste when compared to refined sugars.
For people that cannot use stevia, organic xylitol is recommend. This is a sugar alcohol which means that it can cause abdominal gas or discomfort when consumed excessively. Make sure you use pure xylitol if this is the alternative you choose. Usually the ratio of refined sugars: stevia/xylitol is not 1:1. More often than not, you will need to use more stevia or xylitol than the recipe calls for, in comparison to the refined sugars. Experiment 🙂
Here is a quick recap:
The best options are organic stevia and xylitol. Good options are raw honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup (in moderation). Refined sugars are the worst option!