Refined sugar is everywhere around us these days. In 2001 the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter reported that Americans spent $21 billion on candy—more than the gross national products of Lithuania, Costa Rica, and Mozambique combined! There has been a rise in Type 2 diabetes that experts are now calling an “emerging epidemic.” The FDA estimates that approximately 2/3 of the sugars we eat come from those added to processed foods.
Refined Sugar Alternatives
Overuse of refined sugar is obviously an issue. And we all crave sweets, but we do not have to give them up completely. Several sweeteners available today, eaten in moderation, can quench our sweet tooth without ruining our health.
- Barley Malt: Can be purchased as a powder or as a syrup. Very concentrated—1/8 tsp. replaces 2 tsp. of refined table sugar. Good for those on a weight-loss regimen or with diabetes or hypoglycemia.
- Honey: Contains anti-oxidants. Has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Rich source of vitamins and minerals.
- Blackstrap Molasses: Rich in iron and minerals. Is a byproduct of sugar refining. It is the “good stuff” left over after all the nutrients are refined out of regular sugar. This is one of the best sugar substitutes.
- Brown Rice Syrup: Similar in texture to honey. Good for people with diabetes. Made by fermenting and boiling brown rice.
- Stevia: Also known as honeyleaf. Completely safe. Calorie-free. Available in liquid or powdered form. Does not affect blood sugar metabolism. In powdered form, ¼ – ½ tsp. equals a cup of refined sugar.
- Unsulfured dried fruit: Can be used on top of cereals instead of sugar, or the dried fruit can be cooked, pureed, and mashed to use in baking as a sugar replacement. (This can be done ahead and then when ready to use, soak in boiling water to soften and rehydrate.)
Sugars, in any form, should be kept to a minimum in our diet. Some other foods that help to reduce cravings for sugar include whole grains, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, and bananas.
What are you doing to reduce your refined sugar consumption? We’d love to hear your comments!