I feel like when anyone sees the word sugar, they freak out. In most cases they should especially when it looks like this! AHH! Honestly though, this poor molecule (technically class of molecules) gets a really bad rap. The truth is we NEED sugar. Our brain alone is a glucose hog needing 100-145g/day. I’m not saying you should run out and by a bottle of Coke and down it. (Please, don’t, ever.) What people don’t realize is that not all sugars are created equal. Depending on which form you choose, they are processed, and react, differently in the body.
Quick science lesson – thinking caps on! Sugars are the molecules that serve as the main building blocks for plants. (If you want to know how plants produce them you can read about it here) They contain a specific chemical structure, which classifies them as sugars. (If you want to know it’s CnH2nOn – n being any number for example glucose is C6H12O6). There are three main simple sugars that bond to form complex sugars: Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose. In the body, glucose is king and your bod goes through great lengths to turn Fructose and Galactose into Glucose.
“Where am I going with all of this” I’m sure you are wondering by now – bear with me!
These sugars can link together to form more complex carbohydrates like fiber and cellulose. Bottom line: We animals *should* get all of the sugar we need from plant based sources.
“What about other sugar? Like corn syrup, glucose syrup, cane sugar, and on, and on, and on?”
Here in lies the problem – ADDED sugar. If we are eating fruits and veg we are getting all the sugar we would need and fiber and antioxidants to boot! But ADDED sugar is not quite the same. Added sugars usually come in the forms of powders and syrups and are purely comprised of sugar, nothing else. The problem here is with nothing standing between the sugar, and the wall of your small intestine, the sugar goes right into your bloodstream causing a spike in your blood sugar and quick action by your pancreas to kick out insulin. Your body really doesn’t like this.
“So how to avoid this?”
Avoid added sugars! Easy answer, I know. The truth is, if it is out there we will want to eat it! And let’s face it, I love nothing more than my husband’s raw chocolate brownies and without Agave they would be disgusting. I’m not wholeheartedly against added sugar, but you need to choose the RIGHT sugar.
Here are my favorite sweets options:
Coconut Sugar comes from the sap of cut coconut buds. Coconut Sugar is unrefined and therefor contains appreciable amounts of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Agave Nectar is the nectar derived from slowly boiling down the sap from the pina of an agave plant. Agave has a sweet syrupy flavor and is very versatile. There has been some himmin and hawin about agave in the last little while but I will say this “pan metron ariston” – all things in moderation. Agave has a high fructose content which means the liver has to do some converting to make glucose. This is why agave is a low glycemic sweetener. Your liver does not like to do this all the time. So don’t have agave all the time. Also, buyer beware. Some companies cut agave with glucose to create **gasp** high fructose syrup. Call the company and make sure you know what you are getting. We use Madhava Raw (yes we have questioned them extensively)
Stevia is an all natural sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the plant. Unlike other artificial sweeteners, Stevia contains no synthetic chemicals making it a great alternative for those who are looking to limit their sugar intake. *FYI – Stevia is not supposed to be white, looking like sugar. If it’s white, it’s been bleached!*
Date paste is a versatile sweetener made by blending soaked organic Medjool dates with water. It can be used in baking, in cereals, and granola. Date paste is a great sweetener as it contains lots of prebiotic fiber and iron.
There you have it, kind of short and very sweet. Don’t be afraid to say it: “Gimme some sugar, baby!”