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Skip the Sugar Ė But what Now?

Sunday, April 9 2017

Last week we covered the aspects of sugar that are bad for you. But sugar is found almost everywhere, you say. So, what are your other options? And how healthy are they? Agave Nectar The nectar is a product of the agave cactus, and its taste and texture are similar to honey but it does contain less antioxidants than honey. You should however use it in lower quantities than sugar as it contains more fructose than sugar which may reduce your metabolism.

Aspartame Often found in sweeteners such as Equal and NutraSweet and found in low calorie and sugar free snacks, sweets, mints and even items positioned as healthier options such as in sugar-free yoghurts. Originally approved in 1981 by the FDA it does get a bad rap for everything from obesity to cancer but the World Health Organisation and the American Dietetic Association say that in moderation, it is harmless.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Many studies have pointed out that this ever-present sugar substitute is responsible for weight gain and a range of other diseases so itís best not to add this to your diet as itís likely already a big part of it.

Honey Everyone latches on to honey for everything from being a sweetener to being good for the flu due to how close to the source it is. Sure, honey is great Ė it contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals and isnít heavily processed. Plus, with the beekeeping industry seeing some resurgence here, hopefully the supply will level out and the price may even drop a bit. But honey does contain calories so beware if you use it full time as a sweetener.

Neotame Approved for the market in 2002 by the FDA, this sweetener is well over 7,000 times sweeter than sugar and is produced by the same company that produces aspartame but is seldom used in everyday products.

Stevia Itís worth noting that this is extracted from the Stevia rebaudiana leaf, extracted by placing the plants in hot water.

But the end product isnít all natural as it may be mixed with dextrose, a starch-derived glucose which is often extracted from corn, wheat or rice or erythritol, a sugar alcohol. There isnít enough research on it just yet, so again moderation especially since itís 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Saccharin Often seen as Sweet n Low, there was a study that pointed out the increase in bladder cancer among rats. Saccharin was removed from the US National Toxicology Programís Report on Carcinogens in 2000 and Congress repealed the warning label but it still is advisable to avoid, generally, if possible.

Sucralose Often traded as Splenda, again studies pointed to a negative impact, this time on the immune system. The perks of this sweetener are that it isnít susceptible to heat and can be used in baking but also that is generally not considered carcinogenic.

Sugar alcohols Generally less sweet but they are considered more for use in sugar-free foods marketed to diabetics, because they contain fewer carbohydrates than table sugar. Excessive user however can cause bloating and diarrhoea.

Coconut Sugar The new Ďit sugarí, coconut sugar has healthy amounts of nutrients like zinc and iron and also contains antioxidants.

Even better it also contains inulin, a type of dietary fiber that you donít digest but rather serves as a prebiotic in your upper GI tract. But fructose (40% of the sweet aspect of it) goes straight to your liver where it can ďelevate blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL; deplete vitamins and minerals; raise insulin resistance and obesity; and contribute to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, arthritis and even gout.Ē (Dr Mercola) Like all things, moderation.

A good plan would be to acclimatize your taste buds to a gradual reduction in sugar intake, to stop adding sugar to tea, or coffee and to avoid products with added sugar. You will quickly adapt to it tastewise and also notice a drop in your desire to consume sweet products anyway.

Oh, and you will probably live longer.

This advice is culled from dozens of books, medical studies, discussions with professionals and experience.

Always consult your doctor, your nutritionist or preferred health advisor before starting any health changes. Most of all, listen to your body and honour yourself.

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