"Did you know that Americans consume 150 pounds of refined sugar every year? On top of this, they consume 62 pounds of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) annually."
Today's discussion with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist, is for all the sweet tooths out there. Dr. Nancy will go through her top natural sugar alternatives, so you can still indulge that guilty pleasure without the guilt, and without the blood sugar spikes and inflammation that come with consuming refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. She’ll even share one of her top dessert recipes. Don’t miss it!
- 3:21: High Fructose Corn Syrup
- 6:28: What should you reach for then?
- 6:38: Raw Organic Honey
- 8:53: Stevia
- 11:30: Pure Maple Syrup
- 14:11: Inflammation
- 16:32: Sugar Trivia and Important Facts
- 31:47: Hazelnut Chocolate Bars Recipe
- 37:08: Wrap Up
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Did you know that Americans consume 150 pounds of refined sugar every year? On top of this, they consume 62 pounds of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) annually. High fructose corn syrup comes from corn starch, which is a chain of glucose or simple sugar molecules. It is essentially 100% glucose. Glucose is found in a lot of carbs and it is used by the body as an energy source. Glucose levels can fluctuate in the body and when they are normal, the body can efficiently burn fuel. Consistently high glucose levels can lead to diabetes, and regularly consuming high amounts of glucose like refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup contributes to that process.
HCFS uses the word “fructose” instead of “glucose” because enzymes are added to the corn syrup to convert the glucose into fructose, a sugar that occurs naturally in fruit. High fructose corn syrup contains a higher amount of fructose than it does glucose, but that does not make it healthier or natural.
High fructose corn syrup is most commonly found in packaged and pre-packed foods. These are generally not good for you, and you should always favor eating whole, natural, organic foods over anything that is processed and contains refined sugars or high fructose corn syrup.
What should you reach for then?
Raw Organic Honey
Raw honey is a great natural, healthy sweetener. “Raw” means honey that is unfiltered and unpasteurized. It’s honey in its purest, truest, best-for-your-body form. Raw honey or organic honey is a great sugar substitute, and can help with weight loss. Honey has been found to lower blood sugar, and can trigger the hormones involved in suppressing your appetite. It can help fight seasonal allergies, especially allergies brought on by pollen. In fact it can help give the immune system a boost, and when people who have low tolerance for pollen consume high amounts of raw, organic honey, many have experienced their allergy symptoms decreasing over time.
Raw organic honey is loaded with antioxidants, and antioxidants are super important because they help prevent disease by blocking free radicals. Honey even helps you sleep by releasing melatonin in the brain. When you’re well-rested and getting a good night’s sleep, you’re giving your body an opportunity to rest and heal itself, which in turn can cut down on things like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and chronic inflammation.
Stevia is a plant-based, low-calorie sweetener, and when not cut with sugar and other additives, it can have a number of health benefits. The stevia plant looks like a basil plant and you can get it at your local Home Depot. Stevia is so low in calories that it is considered a non nutritive, meaning it is considered a no-calorie food. Like organic raw honey, stevia is linked to promoting weight loss. Since many people who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight tend to consume foods high in sugar or processed foods, switching to stevia could actually help shed unwanted pounds without sacrificing flavor.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of switching to stevia is that it can help people with diabetes, as stevia has no effect on insulin or glucose. This means if you suffer from diabetes, you do not have to make many sacrifices when using stevia as an additive in foods. Additionally, stevia has been shown to actually activate the glucagon response in people with type 2 diabetes after meals. Glucagon is a hormone that often does not work efficiently in those with diabetes. It is the hormone responsible for regulating glucose levels in the body. The only downside to stevia is that it is extremely sweet. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, so beware... a little bit goes a long way.
Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is a great alternative to refined sugar. It is so important that you consume pure, unrefined sugar substitutes, as these will yield the most health benefits. Maple syrup is made by collecting sap from a sugar maple tree and boiling it down to make the syrup. Pure maple syrup is low on the glycemic index, meaning the body takes less time to digest and metabolize it, so it takes longer to raise the insulin and glucose levels. For those with diabetes, or who are pre-diabetic, that’s a good thing. By keeping those levels even, you’re less likely to get diabetes since the body is able to adequately regulate and maintain blood sugar levels.
Maple syrup is also high in antioxidants and it’s loaded with zinc and manganese. Zinc can help boost your immune system, while manganese helps with regulating metabolism. It improves your brain function and regulates blood sugar. Pure maple syrup is a great sugar alternative because it can help fight chronic inflammation. It contains polyphenols and these polyphenols are found in green tea, berries, nuts, and olive oil, and they work to stop infections and inflammation within the body before they even start.
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s the body’s natural way of responding to something harmful in the body. That could be a virus, bacteria, or some sort of toxin. When the immune system is fighting these foreign substitutes, you could get a fever, chills, and joint pain. But inflammation can also become a bad thing; if the body is constantly inflamed (that is chronic inflammation), or the inflammation occurs in the body at times that it’s not supposed to, it can be really harmful. Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup can only exacerbate chronic inflammation, so make the switch to one of the healthy sugar substitutes discussed above right away.
In addition, remember to also supplement with the powerful inflammatory fighting supplement curcumin. It is a natural compound found inside the turmeric root. A large part of the inflammation fighting effect of curcumin comes from its ability to inhibit key enzymes in the body known to promote inflammation. Whether you have diabetes or not, taking Smarter Curcumin is ultimately one of the best daily wellness practices that you can actually implement.
Sugar Trivia and Important Facts
- Sugar was first domesticated in 8,000 BC by New Guinea.
- Indians were the first to crystallize sugar.
- Crusaders introduced sugar to Europe. They saw these caravans carrying a sweet, white substance, and they initially called it “sweet salt”.
- It is true that sugar causes wrinkles via glycation. Excess blood sugar binds collagen in the skin and then it makes it less elastic.
- There are 115 different names of sugar. This is because a lot of companies know that people are trying to avoid sugar, so they try to avoid listing sugar as any of the first couple ingredient and they name it other things instead.
- Between lemons and strawberries, lemons have more sugar.
- 200 years ago, the average American ate two pounds of sugar per year. In 1970, the average American ate 123 pounds of sugar a year. Today, the average American eats 3 pounds per week, equating to about 152 pounds of sugar every year.
- Did you know that humans are born craving sugar?
- 50% of Nutella’s ingredients are sugar.
- The difference between brown sugar and white sugar is that brown sugar is a white sugar with added molasses.
- A teaspoon of sugar can kill the burning sensation from spicy food.
- Popcorn rose to fame during the Great Depression, when there was a heavy shortage of sugar.
- The urine from a diabetic person with high levels of sugar can be turned into Whiskey.
- A grande Starbucks iced flavored drink has 28 grams of sugar, which is equal to 2.5 Krispy Kreme donuts.
- A Minute Maid bottle that is labeled 100% orange juice is equivalent to 10 Oreos. When making orange juice that is not organic, manufacturers usually take the orange juice, they boil it and take out the entire flavor and add more sugar and food coloring.
- Sugar does not create feelings of being full and satiated. However, foods rich in fiber, good healthy fats, and protein will help you feel full and satiated.
- The sweetest compound known to man is Lugduname. It’s 20,000 times sweeter than sugar.
- Sucralose was invented or discovered by a scientist who was trying to make insecticide. He was asked by his superior to taste the sample, which he did, and that’s how he discovered that it was very sweet.
Healthy Hazelnut Chocolate Bars Recipe
These bars are super simple to make, they contain no processed or refined sugars, and they are really good for satisfying any sweet tooth.
- You need 16 oz. of dark chocolate chips. Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips are really great because they are verified non-GMO, certified gluten-free and free from the 14 most common food allergens.
- 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp of Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp organic vanilla
- 3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Combine the chocolate chips and the maple syrup in a heated saucepan. You can also do this in the microwave as well.
- Make sure that the mixture is smooth and combined, then add in the salt and vanilla.
- Pour that mixture into the baking pan and then sprinkle the roasted hazelnuts over the chocolate. You can also add dried cherries.
- Cool the mixture in the refrigerator for two hours, and then once the bars have hardened, take them out and then you break them into pieces. You can serve them or you can save them. They are very delicious!
Americans consume enormous amounts of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup annually. This can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from heart disease, to obesity, and it’s even linked to Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Switching to a healthy sugar substitute like raw organic honey, stevia, or pure maple syrup will help maintain blood sugar levels, and can help you either prevent or regulate diabetes. Sugar alternatives like these three have also been proven to aid in weight loss and reduce inflammation in the body.