Thursday, January 24, 2013

Choose your Sweeteners Wisely!

The last article I shared discussed the negative health implications of consuming Fructose and other Refined sugars.  Not only have refined sugars been linked to over eating and increased hunger but tooth decay, behavior problems, obesity, the development of diabetes, and increasing bad cholesterol levels, to name a few!

Refined sugar is often responsible for many common chronic complaints.  If you remove it from your diet for just 2-3 weeks, you may be amazed to find that some of your long-standing symptoms will disappear.  Energy, joint or muscle pains may improve, headaches may disappear, you may sleep better, and your stomach may no longer rumble and bloat. 

So how do we avoid refined sugars?  Its all about reading labels and being conscious of what we consume and feed to our kids.   But just to make it all more complicated, food processors try to mask the total amount of sugars by using a variety of different names.  Some examples of these are high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, honey, glucose, sucrose, and sorbitol.

Better options for sweeteners are those that have a low glycemic index- or do not cause a spike in blood sugar when eaten.  Sweeteners in their whole form also have more minerals and nutrients as well for added nutrition and a lower glycemic index.  Examples of healthier sweetener options are: Maple syrup, Molasses, Brown rice syrup, Coconut sugar, Stevia, Lucuma powder, date sugar, and honey.  Use these sparingly as needed in foods and baking.

Some Tips to Decreasing refined sugars in you diet & Spotting them on labels!

1.  Avoid foods with sugar as a principle ingredient:  Ingredients are listed by weight in descending order. Unless low glycemic index, sweeteners should never be one of the first ingredients.  They should be listed toward the end in the list of ingredients.  If they appear near the beginning of the list, that food probably should be avoided.

2. Look for those Refined Sugars!  The following are different names for sweeteners as they appear on the label, e.g., high fructose corn syrup, fructose, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt, dextrose, glucose, molasses, sorbitol, evaporated cane juice, honey, brown sugar,. A product may contain more than one kind of sugar.  When making choices, choose lower glycemic index and/or naturally occurring sweets over refined sweets, e.g., fruit juice or fruit, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt, stevia (an herb), or date sugar.

3.  Avoid Artificial Sweeteners:  Use of artificial sweeteners, including NutraSweet, Splenda, Acesulfame, Aspartame, and Sweet N’Low can disrupt the body’s ability to gauge calories and lead to overeating. There have been allergic reactions associated with the use of these sweeteners. Use of artificial sweeteners also encourages our taste buds to desire more foods with a very sweet taste. Stevia is a sweet tasting herb and is a healthier alternative but should be used in moderation. 

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