Monday, August 30, 2010

Which Sweetener do You Choose?

Sweets are fun, delicious and often have good memories attached to them. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy them just like anything else, not to over indulge. I get questions all the time about which sweeteners are the best ones and basically many people trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Well you can of course (enjoy some cake.), and the most natural sweeteners are going to be my top choice. First off, you have to understand that if you are used to consuming strong tastes than at first milder, more natural things, are going to seem bland. Give your taste buds time to adjust rather than go looking for a chemical substitute. Sugar is a drug. We forget that since it is completely ubiquitous and added to many products to get you hooked. Natural sugar cane is sweet, just not the same as when it is juiced, reduced to powder and sold by the pound. Each little teaspoon is like eating three feet of cane, only without the fiber or minerals to slow down the absorption of the sugar, so it lands with quite a punch.

I have one friend who is diligently looking at the grams of sugar on packages to make sure she doesn't overindulge, but grams of sugar is not the same as actual sugar content. Different sweeteners are going to impact you differently. I do well with Agave myself and it doesn't seem to spike the blood sugar the way other sugars do. I was asked about coconut crystals made from the coconut palm tree. Now in theory it sounds great. I've eaten dark rich palm sugar in Indonesia and it was wonderful and felt about like the Agave. Crystals sounds like it has been further processed and probably has more of an adverse affect on the body.

You could look at the G.I. index and see that Maple syrup is a 54 where Agave is only 11-30. Coconut crystals are 35. But then again, how are they assigning these numbers and which brands? What are the mineral contents of each? Agave is so sweet that you will use less of it than brown rice syrup (20 G.I.) making it again an attractive alternative.

Fruits can be deceiving as well. That watermelon that seems so sweet has very little sugar in it as compared to a date that has plenty. Fruit is always a nice choice for a sweet because it is a whole food and the body gets so much more than just the sugars.

Parents if you keep to natural sugars at home and set a good example than your kids will try things like birthday cake or donuts at a friends house, but they will most likely not even like it if they are used to natural sweeteners. Watch and see how foods effect you and your kids and point it out to them. If they do eat the cookies at school and then are moody the next day you can talk about the direct links of what we eat and how it effects us. Weight is just one issue with sugar, it also has a huge impact on mental clarity, focus, energy levels, and health. Choose your sweets according to your condition and how you want to feel.

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