This Healthy Skinny Sugars post explains the best sugars to eat for weight loss and cravings!
A common misconception when it comes to sugar, is that people believe sugar is sugar whether it’s refined sugar, honey, a piece of fruit, sugar substitutes or sugar alcohols and it all behaves the same way in the body. This is not true. Naturally occurring sugars from fruits, milk, and natural sources like maple syrup have a wide range of nutrients and minerals within them.
There is nothing wrong with having an occasional sweet on a healthy diet, but the reality is the vast majority of people are vastly overeating sugar. This is resulting in sugar addiction, obesity and the development of diseases.
If and when we do consume sugar, it should nourish us, not deplete us of vitamins and minerals, cause increased fat storage, cravings or the development of disease which can be the case with over consuming refined sugars and sugar substitutes.
As a note, I do never recommend artificial sweeteners or zero calorie sweeteners for weight loss. They may be calorie free but they have a million chemicals, and it is unknown what the long term side effects are of consuming those chemicals.
Here are 6 Skinny Sugar substitutes I recommend for those on a healthy diet. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, have lost weight or trying to manage a healthy lifestyle, these sugars are healthy, wholesome and offer an array of health benefits that go beyond satisfying your sweet tooth.
Stevia comes from the leaves of a perennial herb. It is not sugar, it is an herb that happens to be sweet. One teaspoon of the liquid extract has the same sweetness as a whole cup of sugar. Scientific research shows the stevia leaves contain many nutrients including chromium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, niacin and protein.
Stevia is not converted into glucose in the body making it ideal for those who have metabolic syndrome or diabetes. In fact, research has shown stevia has the ability to heal cells in the pancreas thereby improving insulin sensitivity in people with insulin problems.
Positive effects stevia can have:
- It can be used externally on the skin to heal wounds, cuts and clear up acne, eczema and dermatitis.
- It cans inulin, a natural fiber that stimulates the growth of good gut bacteria.
- It improves digestion and soothes upset stomaches.
- It has zero calories.
Stevia is what I recommend to my weight loss clients in addition to maple syrup, coconut sugar and occasionally, honey. Stevia does have GI side effects for most people so I recommend it be used sparingly.
Honey has an abundant and surprising number of health benefits. B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron and other minerals and enzymes. Honey is a rich source of antioxidants which stop disease-causing free radicals.
They also contain phytonutrients which have been shown in studies to possess cancer-preventing and anti tumor properties. Honey also has antibacterial properties. Bacteria cannot survive in raw honey, but it can in refined sugar and refined honey.
Most honey’s found in supermarkets are not healthy. It’s basically a refined white sugar version of honey. When honey is heat (pasteurized) and processed, its cancer-fighting antioxidants are destroyed along with it’s enzymes and nutrients. Enjoy honey in its natural form: raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized.
Honey can only be metabolized directly in the liver like high fructose corn syrup. This means it will (for most people) be stored immediately as fat. While there are health benefits to honey, they are incredibly minimal.
Pure Maple Syrup
Not pancake syrup which is artificially flavored processed food. Pure maple syrup is derived from maple trees by tapping the tree bark and allowing the sap to flow freely. Sap is clear and almost tasteless and very low in sugar when it is first tapped. From there, it is boiled to evaporate the water, which concentrates the sugar and creates the flavor and color of the syrup. The darker the color, the longer the syrup has boiled.
Pure maple syrup has fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals than honey. It’s a good source of zinc and manganese both of which are important for strengthening the immune system as many immune cells depend on them. Zinc is essential is helping antioxidants disarm free radicals in the body and can also decrease the formation of harden arteries (atherosclerosis).
Unsulfured Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is the dark, viscous liquid that come from processing sugarcane into its refined form. While not a whole food, it’s actually good for you. Unlike sugar and corn syrup, there are significant amounts of nutrients found in it including polyphenols. For example, one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses provides up to 20% of the daily value of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. It also contains copper, manganese, selenium, chromium, B vitamins and protein. I recommend buying organic, uncultured blackstrap molasses.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is an amber-colored syrup with a slight butterscotch flavor. It is prepared by fermenting brown rice with special enzymes to disintegrate the natural starch content of the grain. When the process is complete, the fermented liquid is strained and the rice slowly cooks until it reaches a smooth consistency. The brown rice is what makes this sugar healthy which contains protein, bran and fiber making the syrup rich in protein and fiber, which slows the absorption of the natural sugars when digested.
Coconut Sugar or Coconut Nectar
Coconut nectar is a sweet sap that comes from the flowers of a coconut tree, not from the coconut itself. It is completely raw, unrefined sweetener. The only processing is a low-heat evaporation to remove water and thicken the nectar. It does not taste like coconut. Rather, it has a mild, caramel-like flavor. What makes this a healthier option is its low-glycemic effect (blood sugar). It contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, protein and nutrients like Vitamin C. When coconut nectar is air-fried, it forms crystals or also known as coconut sugar or palm sugar.
Fruit is balanced in fiber, mineral, vitamins and nutrients. The fiber balances the sugar in fruit so when they are consumed the blood sugar spike slows down from the fiber. Many fruits are high in antioxidants and their bright colors signify they are cancer protecting. Fruit in a healthy diet should be consumed in moderation.
Dairy products are naturally high in lactose which is a type of sugar found only in dairy. No sugar added milks, yogurts, grass fed butter, cottage cheese can be incorporated into a balanced diet. Not every meal every day, but occasionally. Cheese is highly processed and should be consumed as a treat.
Dairy is one I’m neither for or against. Dairy is intended to nurture a 2 ton animal, so I’ve always questioned what that means for human health. This is why I personally limit my dairy intake and choose high quality grass-fed organic dairy.