Monday, February 16, 2009

Healthy Sources of Sugar

Have a bit of a sweet tooth? Do you think your body’s craving sugar? The truth is we all are…all animals…all living things; it’s one of the main products of photosynthesis. Believe it or not glucose (or simple sugar) is a crucial part of healthy diet. Our bodies use it as a source of energy, and it plays an important role in cellular respiration. It would not be an exaggeration to say that from a biology standpoint, glucose is one of the most important carbohydrates for all living things. Leave it to humans though, to turn this biological necessity into an unhealthy human craving. If its sugar you’re after then why not get your fix and stay healthy at the same time.

Your body needs sugar, but not the refined white sugar or corn syrup most people consume in the form of processed foods, snacks, candies, and soda. You may be tricking the brain by “satisfying” the body’s need for sugar with these harmful, extremely unhealthy foods, but you’re only fooling yourself and the staggering number of people suffering from obesity and diabetes is your proof.

There are many natural minimally processed forms of sugar that will fulfill not only the body’s basic need for sugar, but the human desire for it as well. A few good substitutes for refined white sugar are Raw Honey, Pure Maple Syrup, Pure Molasses, and Dates. Each of these is not only a great source of sugar, but is also packed with many important nutrients that are crucial for a healthy body. So let’s take a look at these often overlooked natural wonders.

Raw Honey is basically unprocessed honey, and contains the phytonutrients that are lost during processing. It has very high antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities when consumed in this raw state. It has many documented health benefits, and has been successfully used as treatment for many disorders ranging from digestion problems, intestinal ulcers, stomach ulcers, respiratory problems, allergies, as well as topical treatments for burns and wound healing. Teaspoon for teaspoon this tasty treat packs a powerful punch when it comes to health benefits; it’s a high quality source of sugar with the added benefits of no fat.

Pure Maple Syrup is another natural wonder; as with all foods though minimally processed is the key. Do not mistake the popular brands of processed syrups that are so commonly used by most people, with the far healthier pure maple syrup. It’s a great source of both manganese and zinc which greatly benefits the heart as well as the immune system, not to mention its antioxidant benefits. Add to that the fact that its low in both calories and fat, and it makes a great substitute for refined sugar.

Another great healthy source of sugar is Molasses. Unlike the popular yet unhealthy refined white sugar and corn syrup, molasses has not been stripped of its nutrients. It’s a great source of both copper and magnesium, as well as good sources of iron, manganese, potassium, and calcium. So the next time you’re looking for a sugar substitute in your recipe, try pure organic molasses for a healthy treat.

Last but not least on our list of healthy sources of sugar are dates. It’s common knowledge that all fruits contain sugar, but dates have more sugar per calorie than any other fruit. Not only is it a great source of healthy sugar, theses small tasty fruits have been found to be beneficial for proper digestion and many intestinal disorders.

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