Is There a Healthier Alternative to Sugar?
Our health coaches give in-person seminars on a variety of topics. Whenever we give a nutrition seminar, one subject that always comes up is sugar. Should we cut it out altogether? Is there a healthier alternative to sugar?
There are so many sweeteners at the grocery store: agave, maple syrup, honey, cane sugar, coconut sugar—the list goes on. But as our coaches would say, there’s no such thing as the “healthiest sugar.”
The truth about sugar
Any type of sugar is an exceptionally concentrated source of calories that provides few other nutrients. Some caloric sweeteners, such as maple syrup and honey, do contain trace amounts of minerals and antioxidants. But you’d have to consume an absurd amount for them to lend a worthy contribution to your daily needs.
Why we crave sweetness
Humans are biologically programmed with an innate preference for sweetness. This was once a survival mechanism, but today we’re so hooked on sugar that we even use variations of the name as terms of endearment.
A healthier alternative to sugar?
More important than which sweetener you chose is how much you consume. Our health coaches always tell participants is that moderation is key.
Solid evidence shows that the over-consumption of sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes, but it may also lead to heart disease and other chronic illnesses. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their sugar intake: 100 calories per day for women, 150 calories per day for men.
How to manage sugar intake
When it comes to cutting back on sugar, food manufacturers aren’t on our side. It’s added to soups, breads, tomato sauce, peanut butter, salad dressings—and many other foods you probably wouldn’t guess. EatingWell created a list of “sugar names” to help you spot hidden sugars in your food.
Fortunately, your palate is adaptable. Small changes really add up. Our health coaches recommend cutting out one teaspoon of sugar each week to manage cravings.