Hidden in most refined foods and disguised under 40 different names, sugar is a sneaky ingredient that can be difficult to find.
The first step to minimizing your sugar intake is to eat more whole foods and less processed products. For example, opt for dates over brown sugar. The less refined a sweetener is, the better.
The next step is to always read food labels. Avoid hidden sugars such as words ending in “-ose,” maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup and any other ingredients you can’t identify. Also steer clear of any “low-fat” or “non-fat” options, as they usually contain added sugars.
Lastly, avoid artificial sweeteners found in many “diet,” “sugar-free,” or “calorie-free” foods, such as yogurt or diet soda. Artificial sweeteners were thought to provide a sugar-free option for reducing calories to lose weight, but research has shown that these chemicals actually contribute to weight gain.
Try these healthier sweeteners to shed the fat without losing flavor.
Excellent for stabilizing blood sugar, stimulating circulation and decreasing inflammation, this naturally sweet spice should be your top choice for a sweetener. Aim for at least 1/4 teaspoon daily to maximize health benefits. Cinnamon is delicious stirred in coffee, sprinkled on apple slices, mashed with sweet potatoes, blended in shakes, or mixed with plain Greek yogurt.
Stevia is an all natural herb containing zero sugar, carbs, calories or toxic ingredients. Use stevia as a replacement for sugar in beverages such as tea or coffee. If you’re a soda drinker, try carbonated water with flavored stevia for a similar taste. Stevia can also be used in desserts and other dishes.
Rich in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, fresh, frozen or dried fruit is excellent in green drinks, blended with heavy cream for a homemade ice cream, mixed with yogurt, or ground up for baking such as the dates in these chocolate chip cookies. Moderate fruit consumption to 2 servings or less daily for weight loss.
Raw, unfiltered, local honey is a great source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Honey is a sweet addition to roasted nuts with coconut flakes, stirred with berries and plain yogurt, mixed in homemade salad dressings, or drizzled on figs with mascarpone. Use a cinnamon stick dipped in honey to drizzle it on foods and be sure to enjoy sparingly as it contains high amounts of sugar.
5. Maple Syrup
Grade B 100% pure maple syrup is a good source of manganese, zinc, iron, and calcium. Maple syrup is scrumptious slathered on gluten-free blueberry pancakes, drizzled on sauteed pears with pecans, mixed with homemade popcorn and cinnamon, or sprinkled on mascarpone with pistachios. Enjoy sparingly.
6. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar (a.k.a. coconut palm sugar), made from the nectar of coconut tree blossoms, provides a great low-glycemic alternative to traditional sweeteners. This sweetener can be used as a 1:1 substitute for granulated sugar. Coconut sugar has a sweet and nutty flavor. It’s also a decent source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, polyphenols, antioxidants and inulin (a type of fiber).