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Refined Sugars, Healthy Substitutes and Other Alternatives

Sugar has been linked to negative health problems such as weight gain, depression and obesity. According to mindbodygreen.com, refined sugars have direct links to causing conditions such as insomnia, dizziness, hair loss, ADD, allergies, breakouts and acne, manic depression, tooth decay, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, obesity, hypoglycemia, colon and pancreatic cancer and type 2 Diabetes. However, the average American consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. Intense consumption of refined white sugar can exacerbate mood swings, irritability, arthritis, heart disease and endocrine problems.

Sugar is addictive. When ingested, sugar releases an opiate- like substance that activates the brain reward system to make you feel good. When you consume too much sugar your body can become accustomed to the high sugar intake therefor giving you sugar cravings.

If you’re trying to cut back on sugar consumption you can focus on the types of sugar your consuming. Sugary foods like pastries and baked goods like cakes and cookies are normally loaded with sugar and calories. Cutting those out is a great way to get started. To substitute the white refined sugar most people use to bake with or put in their coffee there are plenty of healthy alternatives.

When people think of sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives they normally think of Splenda, Equal, or Sweet n’ Low. However, despite what advertisers claim, those sugar substitutes aren’t as healthy as they proclaim. Adverse health effects related to Splenda use have been reported around the globe from issues of gastrointestinal problems, seizures, dizziness, migraines, blurred vision, weight gain, and blood sugar elevation to allergic reactions.

Replace Sugar in Your Diet For A Healthier You

These highly processed sugar substitutes are loaded with chemicals and additives. However, other alternative options include raw organic honey, agave nectar, raw sugar cane and others. Agave nectar is made from the agave plant, which also gives us tequila. Agave nectar is syrup similar to honey and has slightly more calories than table sugar but is about 25 percent sweeter, so you don’t have to use as much. Agave nectar contains a type of dietary fiber, known as a prebiotic, that nourishes intestinal bacteria and is good for your stomach.

Honey is also an excellent sugar substitute. Honey has amazing health benefits for your skin and ingestion. Honey can be used medicinally or just for its sweet, delicious flavor. Honey is rich in minerals and nutrients and also has some antibiotic properties that can aid in the healing processes. Found in most kitchens, honey provides a concentrated dose of antioxidants, and is beneficial to the heart and hips. According to oprah.com, in one study, people who had about ten teaspoons of honey every day for a month lowered their cholesterol by up to 3.3 percent while maintaining or even losing weight.

Other healthy sugar substitutes are stevia and blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses is a by-product of sugarcane processing and contains about 15 percent of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women, as well as vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and more antioxidants than any other natural sweetener. This item can even be found at Walmart and other grocery or health food stores, as well as online.

Stevia is a powdered extract of the South American stevia plant. It is a zero-calorie sugar substitute that’s all natural. Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar, but doesn’t cause a spike in blood glucose levels, which means there’s no heavy sugar crash that comes with a spoonful of refined sugars.

If you like sweet foods or sugar in your coffee or tea, substituting the white refined sugar for other alternative all-natural sweeteners can help to improve your health while still giving you the flavor you crave.