Healthy Sugar Alternatives, Are They Worth It?

Sugar alternatives, blackstrap mollasses, honey and stevia

Sugar alternatives I already use.

 

Healthy sugar alternatives, are they worth the effort and the considerable higher cost in some cases over just using plain old white sugar like most of us have always done? White sugar can be compared to white bread as white sugar has been stripped of all nutrients except for the considerable calories.  With white bread our loving government at least forces the food companies to enrich white flour by artificially adding back some of the nutrients that they intentionally stripped out of it during the manufacturing process.  In the case of white sugar, I guess our government feels that it is such a lost cause that adding anything would be a waste of time and effort.  Do I think the government should just ban white sugar?  No, I think the general public should educate themselves about white sugar and them voluntarily quit eating it as I have, for the most part.  It is something you just can’t totally avoid.   Should the government educate us about it?  No, they have botched it in so many ways in trying to educate us about food.  You can believe about as much about healthy eating coming from the government as you can believe of what the average politician says.

When I first started preparing to write about healthy sugar alternatives I felt that some of the alternatives may be better for us.  With some of these alternatives costing many times more than white sugar, could the benefits be worth the tremendous cost differential?  Then, I felt that limiting the amount of sugar we use and using the best of the affordable and commonly available sugars would work best for most people.  I still think that whatever sugar alternative we use we should also limit all our sugar intake and for some they must severely limit it or suffer dire health consequences.   For me price is almost always a factor in what I buy but for the relatively small amount of sugar I buy, I believe the benefits of some of these healthy sugar alternatives do justify the cost compared to white sugar.  Next I will give you my opinion as to the best choices.

Raw honey is something that anyone who likes something sweet should have in their kitchen, there are so many benefits.  It contains vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, enzymes, phytonutrients and it is even anti-bacterial.  Raw unfiltered honey also contains pollen which has been shown to help desensitize us to those pollens.  Remember to not give babies honey until they are at least a year old.  Some honey contains botulism spores and the babies undeveloped immune systems may not be able to handle it.

Blackstrap molasses is another item I feel is good to have although it has limited uses.  It contains most of the nutrients from the cane juice and it adds a pleasing taste to some things and is not expensive.  I love to use it in breads instead of sugar, I even prefer it to honey for bread,  You lose a lot of the nutrients in honey when you heat it.  Honey is good if you just want the honey flavor.

Stevia can be used for other things but I prefer it for sweetening tea or other drinks.  It is good to sweeten oatmeal or other cereals.  I have never used it to cook with myself.  My friend has used it in muffins and to replace a portion of the brown sugar in recipes.  Recipes that require sugar for texture would not work with stevia.

Dates are good to chop up or process and use to sweeten baked goods such as cookies, muffins, health bars or to sweeten cereal.  Dates not only add sweetness but you get the fiber and all the other nutrients that you don’t get from just sugar.

Coconut palm sugar is probably my number one choice of all natural sugar alternatives for white sugar. Although it is about one third higher cost wise than my next choice whole cane sugar, I believe coconut palm sugar is worth the extra cost.  In fact I know it is worth the extra cost for those who suffer with diabetes.  It has a glycemic index ration of 35 and will not spike our blood sugar levels like most sweeteners do.  It is a one to one swap for both white and brown sugar, works great in baked goods and most people like the taste.  It is also rich in potassium and iron.  Go here for coconut palm sugar.

Whole Cane sugar such as Sucanat, rapadura and planeta which is made by slowly heating sugar cane juice to remove the water content.  It is one of the least refined sugars made from sugar cane and retains most of the nutrients from the sugar cane juice. The following; evaporated cane juice, unrefined brown sugar and organic sugar are made from the same raw cane juice but are considered more highly refined and contain less of the original nutrients from the cane juice.

Maple syrup is the perfect compliment to pancakes and waffles and great to use as a flavoring in other foods. It is 60% as sweet as sugar and has a lower giycemic index number at 54, verses 80 for white sugar. Maple syrup is available in three grades with grade C being the most flavorful and containing the most nutrients but it is not readily available.  Grade B is usually the one we see recommended but if you like a more delicate flavor then get grade A.  It is great to use in moderation if you like the flavor.  You can also get maple sugar but neither is the best replacement for white sugar for general use.

Agave syrup is lower on the glycemic index, has more nutrients than white sugar, is 1.4 to 1.6 times as sweet as sugar and dissolves easily.  It is also composed of up to 90% fructose and due to the unanswered questions about the long term affects of consuming high fructose containing sweeteners I can not see it as a good alternative replacement for white sugar.

Whatever you choose to use, read the label and be sure you are getting what you think you are getting.  A syrup you find in your local grocery with a label  that says maple pancake syrup, may just be high-fructose corn syrup with a fake maple flavoring.  There is certainly no need to try to eat healthy and end up with an inferior product.  In addition, please limit how much of any of these sweeteners you use, there are few of us that do not eat too many sweets and that is the core cause of many of our chronic ills.

If you like or benefit from anything you read here please share it with your friends and family, I would sincerely appreciate it as I appreciate you, my readers.

Thanks for visiting, you are always welcome here. May you and yours have a healthy and happy day.       David Johnson

 

 

Natural Healthier Sugar Substitutes

Natural healthier sugar substitutes can make something that most view as unhealthy, a lot less unhealthy, if eaten in moderation.  When I first started thinking about writing this post I wondered if there truly was a healthy substitute for white and high fructose corn syrup.  As for the high fructose corn syrup, avoidance is the key word, none, nada.  As for as white sugar there are many choices, some are a simple one to one trade, others are lesser or more sweet than white sugar. My list of natural healthier sugar substitutes listed below are listed starting with the ones I feel have the most merit to be included in a healthy diet.

White Sugar, the traditional sweetener.

White Sugar, the traditional choice.

Raw Honey – Honey is first on the list because it 100% natural.  It is the only natural sweetener that does not come directly from plants although bees make it from plant products.  Honey contains anti-oxidants,enzymes, has many minerals we need and even prevents bacterial growth, I love it. Honey is indeed a natural healthier sugar substitute and first on my list.  If you have a local source, buy local if not, Buy raw honey here.
.

Stevia - Stevia is about as natural as you can get if you read the label and get a product that only contains stevia.  The powdered stevia in the little packets have added sugars, the liquid steva has only a carrier fluid, either alcohol or glycerin.  You can also get a stevia plant and grow your own, I did earlier this spring. You could just use the leaves, they are very sweet to the taste. Stevia is said to be 300 times as sweet as sugar. Next to honey this is about the most natural healthier sugar substitute that you could use.  It is also calorie free. Buy stevia here.

Blackstrap Molasses – Blackstrap molasses contains all the concentrated minerals and nutrients that were in the cane juice except for the enzymes and phytonutrients that are destroyed by the refining process.  It has a distinct flavor and may not be a suitable substitute for some uses.  It is only 65% as sweet as white sugar and not a direct one to one replacement. Is blackstrap molasses a natural healthier sugar substitute?  Not 100% natural but has it’s merits. I use it myself, especially in making bread. Buy blackstrap molasses here.

Sucanat – is the more natural sugar substitute I see mentioned on food blogs  most often.  Sucanat and Rapadura are brand names.  You can get Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane Sugar here or for a less expensive version of what appears to be the same thing, go here.This is refined in such a way to retain the nutrients from the natural cane juice.  It is a one to one replacement for white sugar but has a brown sugar like color and a distinct taste when used in some ways.  Is this a more natural healthier sugar substitute?  It is one of the most naturally produced of the sugar alternatives.

Coconut Palm Sugar - Coconut palm sugar is made from the nectar of the coconut palm flower, is sustainably grown and environmentally friendly.  It looks somewhat like brown sugar and is a one to one replacement for both white and brown sugar and can be used in any way they would be used.. The reviews I have read report that it works very well for baking, for texture as well as taste.  It is very low on the glycemic scale at 35 and does not spike our blood sugar like most sugars do. It is rich in potassium and iron. Buy it here.

Dates – Dates while not really a sugar are and can be used to sweeten and in that sense is a natural healthier sugar substitute.  These  can be processed in a food processor and used to sweeten cookies, muffins, food bars and other baked goods.  They can be used to sweeten oatmeal and other cereals.  I have used them myself and they work very well.  There is also a sugar made from dates but it is rather pricey.  This is definitely a natural healthier sugar substitute.

Maple Syrup – Maple syrup and also maple sugar contain manganese and calcium and are less processed than white sugar which has no nutrients left.  It would qualify as a more natural healthier sugar substitute. Get grade B here.

Agave Syrup - Agave syrup is said by some to be overly processed but to me the process seems along the same lines with some of the other sweeteners. You can get it in a light amber color, amber and a darker amber, the later being less filtered and having more nutrients. You can also get raw agave which has been processed under 118 degrees and qualifies as a raw food. Agave syrup is 1.4 to 1.6 times as sweet as sugar and has a lower glycemic number.  I would say it is a more natural healthier sugar substitute.

Unrefined Brown Sugar - Unrefined brown sugars such as what you find in most regular grocery stores include demerara, muscovado and turbinado.  While these are more refined than those higher on the list, they are certainly better than white sugar but are much higher in cost than white sugar and you get more bang for your buck elsewhere.  These are a more natural healthier sugar substitute if you overlook the natural part.

Evaporated Cane Juice – Evaporated cane juice is claimed to be less refined.  Anything less refined would be better than white sugar.

Organic Sugar - Organic sugar is organically grown but is much like brown sugar, better than white. At least you know it is not GMO.

In my next post I will give you my conclusion as to what I feel is the best alternative to replace white sugar.  I believe that we need to find a natural healthier substitute for white sugar, our health depends on it.  If you like or benefit from anything you read here please share it with your friends and family, I would sincerely appreciate it as I appreciate you, my readers.

Thanks for visiting, you are always welcome here. May you and yours have a healthy and happy day.       David Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness: Out Of Reach For Some Of Us?

A perfectly beautiful spring day viewed from my front yard.

A perfectly beautiful spring day viewed from my front yard.

How many people could look at this beautiful spring day depicted in the above photo that I took earlier today and not just be overcome by happiness?  I actually know people that would find something wrong with it and I am sure you do too.  Some people can look at a young puppy or kitten or even a little baby and not be overcome by joy and happiness and be in awe of the miracle of it.

Happiness; what do we need to reach that state.  Is happiness beyond the reach of some of us?  What might keep us from being in a state of happiness?  Does being positive lead to happiness or does being negative prevent us from being there?  What other factors might lead to happiness or prevent us from having it? All good questions and I hope to answer at least some of them.

This morning I was on Twitter and noticed a tweet that hooked me in and I then followed the link to Dumb Little Man dot com.  While I did not have the time to check out the site to any degree there was an excellent post, I think so anyway, titled 16 Sneaky Ways You Sabotage Your Own happiness ( and What You Can Do About It ).  While I intend to go back and check out any other jewels that this site might hold; I have to first give you a link to this article.  I hope this might be a help to you in your quest for happiness.

I know when you read this you will think of certain friends, co-workers, family members or maybe even yourself.  I did, and it made me laugh to myself, although it is not really a laughing matter.  More sad than funny but sometimes you just can’t help it.

Thanks for visiting, you are always welcome here. May you and yours have a healthy and happy day.       David Johnson

Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux Disease

DSCN0035Natural remedies for Acid Reflux Disease includes the juice of 1/2 lemon in 8oz of water, sipped slowly before breakfast.

In my last post I talked about my experience with Acid Reflux Disease and what I had learned that worked for me.  Today I would like to give you a compilation of the things I learned during my research on the subject. First I am going to give you a list of things that are known to be troublesome to people with a history of acid reflux.  Then I will tell you things that you can do that have a positive effect.  Some of these will be practices or changes in behavior and others will be natural remedies for Acid Reflux Disease.

.Foods to avoid at least until you determine how they affect you. If they are not a trigger for you; then by all means enjoy them.

  1. chocolate

  2. onions & garlic

  3. citrus fruits

  4. tomato based foods

  5. spicy foods

  6. fried & fatty foods

  7. peppermint and spearmint

  8. coffee and caffeinated drinks

  9. refined and processed sugar ( this is a bad one for me )

  10. artificial sweeteners ( this I am not too sure about but there are other good reasons not to use them )

  11. Many drugs such as sedatives, anti-depressants, blood pressure meds, aspirin and ibuprofen.

  12. tobacco
  13. alcohol

Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux Disease starts with avoiding the things that trigger the symptoms.

 

The natural remedies for Acid Reflux Disease start with changing the behaviors that may may bring on acid reflux symptoms even when we eat something that is not normally a trigger. The first thing is:

 

  1. Limit our food intake so as to not become overly full.

  2. Eat our last meal of the day at least 2 to 3 hours before the time we plan to go to bed.

  3. Eat several small meals during the day instead of 2 or 3 very large ones ( see number 1 )

  4. If you smoke, quit.

  5. Limit alcohol consumption.

  6. Elevate the head of your bed if possible. Possible with most beds except waterbeds.

  7. Decreasing the amount of carbs in our diet may help.

  8. If you are overweight or obese, lose weight.

  9. Up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water three times a day, may add some honey.

  10. Juice of ½ lemon in 8 oz of water sipped slowly before breakfast.

  11. Lemon oil rubbed on the skin of the abdomen may also help.

  12. Peppermint or chamomile tea.

  13. Licorice tea, green tea or ginger tea may relieve symptoms and heal the mucus lining of the digestive tract.

  14. Eating alkaline foods will decrease the acidity of our bodies. The Sad diet or the standard American diet leads to acidosis. That is believed to be one of the reasons for the epidemic of acid reflux.

  15. A deficiency in magnesium may contribute to acid reflux

Digestive aids such as enzymes and consuming lacto fermented foods will speed up our digestion and move food through our digestive tract more quickly.

Hazards of drugs that are prescribed for acid reflux are many and not all are side effects of the drugs. Proton pump blockers double the rick for a second heart attack. Those taking acid reducing drugs were four times as likely to get pneumonia and three times as likely to get a life threatening diarrhea infection. Natural remedies for Acid Reflux Disease do not have these hazards.

There are other medical conditions that my make acid reflux worse such as hiatal hernia,rapid weight gain,diabetes,high blood pressure, motion sickness and obesity.

Here are some acid causing foods.  Al animal products except natural yogurt, carbs, beans, fats, coffee and alcohol. These vegetables: cranberries, prunes, plums and corn.

Most vegetables are alkaline but the most alkaline are; Lemons,watermelon,parsley,red pepper,bananas, figs and spinach.

I hope these tips help. There are more online, I just gave you what I personally would try first and then if they don’t work I would look further. Too many options can get confusing. There is a book at Amazon that you might also want to check out called No More Heartburn: Stop the Pain in 30Days—Naturally: The Safe Effective Way to Prevent and Heal Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders.

Thanks for visiting, you are always welcome here. May you and yours have a healthy and happy day.       David Johnson

I am an Amazon Associate and may get a few cents from them if you use the link to them to buy anything. This helps me to keep this blog going and I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Diet; How It May Help Acid Reflux

DSCN0029Eliminating acid reflux from your life is like a beautiful spring day after several days of rain. Today’s weather was a welcome change after the last rainy period we just had here. It was so good to see the sun.  As the sun can brighten our spirits after the rain, a healthy diet can help to eliminate the suffering from acid reflux.

Recently I was talking to someone I care very deeply about and she was saying how badly she was suffering from Acid Reflux, her partner also has the same problem.  She has tried or is currently taking all the miracle drugs that are supposed to take care of this problem, nothing is working. She ask me if there was a natural remedy that might help.  I told her that I had read of things that had worked for others but couldn’t remember what they were. I then spent about half the day reading up on the subject and I am going to lay out what I found, There were many sources and I am not going to name or quote them but the information is out there for anyone to find.  My conclusion will be comparing the effects of the SAD diet ( standard American diet ) and a healthy diet on the incidents of Acid Reflux. The results are solely my opinion based on the information I have gathered.

In my younger years I to suffered from Acid Reflux, and yes I do mean suffer.  You don’t wake up from a sound sleep with stomach acid coming up into your throat and mouth and not suffer.  That is not to mention the fear it causes the first few times it happens.  Over the years I have learned to control it to the point that it is no longer a problem.  I have taken most , if not all of the current over the counter drugs for the purpose, plus a lot of anti-acids.  I now only take a anti-acid occasionally when I eat or drink something that gives me an acid stomach.   Learning what foods cause me a problem, what time of day  is better for me to eat certain things and learning to follow a healthy diet have all helped me.  Developing a healthy diet over the years has also been a big help.

In my experience the number one problem is eating too much, especially at the wrong time.  When we eat too much and go to bed or simply lie down it makes it easy for the food and the accompanying acid to be pushed back into the esophagus and up into the throat and mouth.  In my experience it is best to eat a large meal two to three hours before planned bed time and even earlier if eating particularly troublesome foods.  The second problem is determining what time of day you can best eat foods that you like that could cause you a problem.  There are foods that I can safely eat during the day that would cause me problems if eaten in the evening. Also there are foods that when eaten in moderate amounts cause me no problem but do when eaten in excess.  In my next post I will give you a list of foods that commonly cause trouble, some may cause us trouble, some may not.  Our job is to determine which of these cause us problems personally but you probably can think about it and will already be aware of at least some of them.  You may even have a problem with something that is not on the list, we are all different and our bodies reach differently to different foods than maybe someone else would.  Eating a healthy diet and controlling how much we eat at each meal can go a long way to help us deal with Acid Reflux.

Living healthy is knowing our bodies and how they react to the food we eat.  How we feel after we eat tells us if the food is good for us.  If we eat too much of something that normally makes us feel good, we may not feel good. If we have heartburn, if we are bloated, gassy, feeling sluggish our body is telling us something: we need to listen or there will be health consequences.  A healthy diet is a diet that works for us, that supplies our particular body’s needs.

In my next post I will give you more of what I have learned about Acid Reflux and how a healthy diet can help you eliminate it or if not, live with it.  Don’t despair, there is hope.  There is a book on Amazon called  Dropping Acid : The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure that you might benefit from.  Even if it doesn’t cure you; it should help.

Thanks for visiting, you are always welcome here. May you and yours have a healthy and happy day.       David Johnson

I am an Amazon Associate and may get a few cents from them if you use the link to them to buy anything. This helps me to keep this blog going and I appreciate it.