Sugar is a carbohydrate that can most commonly be found in food. If it ends in “‘ose,” it’s most likely a sugar. According to Kimberly Ancira, a personal trainer and nutritionist for over 10 years, glucose, fructose, and sucrose are naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods or added to processed foods to sweeten them and increase the flavor. Although all have the same effect of taste, they are processed differently by the body. (healtlyeating.sfgate.com)
- Glucose circulates in the blood and is the body’s preferred energy source.
- Fructose also occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables but is not the preferred source for muscles or the brain. It is only metabolized in the liver and is more fat-producing than glucose.
- Sucrose is commonly known as table sugar and can be found in the stems of the sugar cane and the roots of sugar beets.
Eating too much sugar in your diet contributes to extra calories and provides very little or no nutritional value. Eating too many foods with added sugars could lead to several health and wellness problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Poor nutrition: Filling up on sugar makes a person less likely to eat the healthy foods they need in their diet leaving them with a lot of calories with no nutritional value.
- Weight gain: Sugar is a carbohydrate that contains a lot of calories. Sugary foods are calorie-dense meaning a person will eat more to feel satisfied than they would from healthier foods with less sugar.
- Increased triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream and fat tissue. Eating more sugar increases triglycerides and could lead to heart disease.
- Tooth decay: Sugar allows for bacteria on your teeth to multiply and grow. Without proper oral hygiene, tooth decay could set in.
Margaret Wertheim, a journalist from mindbodygreen.com, suggests five of the best natural substitutes for sugar are:
- Molasses: Although molasses is made from sugar cane, it is extremely nutrient rich providing calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin B6.
- Dates: Dates are a great source of vitamins A and B6.
- Honey: Honey has antibacterial properties and is a source of antioxidants.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup contains calcium, zinc, and riboflavin.
- Stevia: Stevia is a naturally derived sweetener that is 100 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories.
Naturally Sweet Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites
- 2½ cups flaked coconut, unsweetened
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- a pinch of sea salt
- 4 ounces dark chocolate for topping
- Pulse the coconut in a food processor until sticky crumbs form. Set aside about ¼ cup of the mixture.
- Mix the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and sea salt. Stir in the coconut from step one. Form the mixture into small balls by squeezing until a ball forms. The mixture will be crumbly, so it doesn’t work to put the mixture in your hands and roll it. You have to squeeze it. There will be a little bit of excess oil – that’s okay.
- Once you have the balls rolled, refrigerate for 1 hour or so until they are firm. At this point, if you want, you should be able to take them out and re-roll them to get the shape just right since they’ll be firm and malleable.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and shake or stir constantly for a few minutes until the coconut is lightly browned and fragrant.
- Melt the chocolate for a minute or so in the microwave. Stir it until it’s smooth. Dip each coconut ball in the chocolate and remove with a fork, letting excess chocolate drip off. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and top with the toasted coconut from step three. Freeze or refrigerate to set the chocolate. I like these best in the fridge because they are soft enough to eat anytime!