10 Years of Blog Archive

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why Deprive Our Sweet Tooth? Health Benefits of Eating Natural Sweeteners!

What is a refined sugar? All sugar is refined (processed) unless it comes directly and left whole, from the sugar cane, as in the simple extraction to make cane juice, or unless you farm your own honeybees and harvest honey from the combs or eat natural sugars found in fruit, etc.   

Health Benefits of Raw Honey

Raw bees honey has vital nutrients that our body needs; real honey (not grocery store honey that says “pure honey” on the label) possesses a large amount of friendly bacteria (6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria), which may explain many of the "mysterious therapeutic properties of honey."  Amazingly, honey used topically, heals open sores and keeps them from getting infected.

Experimental evidence indicates that consumption of honey can actually improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to other sweeteners. The body's tolerance to honey is significantly better than to sucrose and glucose. Individuals with greater glucose intolerance (those with mild diabetes and Type 1 diabetes) showed significantly better tolerance to honey than sucrose. But you still want to stay moderate in your consumption even with a whole natural sugar products such as bee's honey straight from the hive.  It is possible to overdo it even with natural whole sugars.  But isn't that true with just about anything? Learning to moderate ourselves is a very good habit.

In addition, the antioxidants in honey, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, may be beneficial for diabetics and even helps to improve blood vessel function and vascular health.

Source: Fessenden R. Report to the Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health- Sacramento, CA, January 8, 2008.  

Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses

We use blackstrap molasses every day as a supplement. Blackstrap molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of minerals that promotes good health. It is a very good source of iron, particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency. Blackstrap is also a very good source of calcium, copper and manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Blackstrap is a healthy supplement to take during fasting or when recuperating from sickness; and as previously stated, is safe sweetener for diabetics in moderation. 

But we don't use it as a "sweetener". The taste is a bit stout for most people, but it does 'grow on you' once a commitment to better health is made. I was once standing on my porch drinking a large cup of very dark Blackstrap Molasses early in the morning, when a friend/neighbor came over and said: "look at you, drinking coffee"!

White Flour Products Convert to Sugar

Did you know that a slice of white wheat enriched bread is equivalent to one teaspoon of refined sugar?   So then just because you have eliminated refined sugar from your diet does not mean you aren’t replacing that sugar with other foods you are eating, such as refined wheat products, white rice, pasta, etc. I know, it’s hard to eliminate 100% of the sugar from our diets but those with diabetes, hypoglycemia and other blood sugar issues have to or they continue to get worse, especially as they get older.

Highly processed white flour, also known as enriched wheat flour is devoid of its nutritious and fiber-rich parts of the seed, which are the outside bran layer and the germ (embryo).  White flour actually promotes nutritional deficiencies and chronic disease in people. 

White flour has sometimes been called the other sugar.  We know that eating refined sugars can/does affect blood sugar, but just avoiding foods made with processed sugar won't solve the problem completely. Even though white flour doesn't taste sweet, it breaks down into sugar (glucose) and can lead to the very same problems caused by eating too much refined sugar; and unbeknownst to many, alcoholic drinks do the same thing.

I know that for us, we had to take the necessary steps to prevent health disorders and afflictions and that meant finding and using natural sweeteners in our diet. Being the do it yourself frugal folk that we are, we don't want to be dependent on a collective body (health care system). Our two cents is that anytime you 'revert' back away from processed foods, and move toward a natural lifestyle, your health will slowly improve, no surprise for us.

The good news is raw honey is widely available in most areas of the world from bee farmers and farmers markets, and you can buy and use unadulterated sugar cane juice and whole natural ground up cane, and blackstrap molasses from the health food store. 

The herb stevia is also a natural sweetener. Other good sugar substitutes are date, raisin and fig juice; dried fruits work very well as a sweetener for home baking purposes. Add 1/2 cup of dried fruit of your choice to blender, cover fruit with water and wait ten minutes then blend for 3 minutes and you have a natural, healthy sweetener for baking with or for using with no-bake treats.

So you see, we don’t have to deprive our sweet tooth, we just need to know more about using natural sweeteners verses refined sweeteners. And like we always say, even though it is a “natural” sweetener we believe that everything in moderation is the best and healthiest way to live our lives. Too much of anything is just too much.

Note: Real panela or rapsadura that you buy in South and Central American countries is juice extracted from the cane and then dried in the sun and packaged as block or round form. The real stuff will say “integral”.  Be careful because there are many fakes on the grocery store shelves. The real stuff will say “integral” meaning whole, and "natural", in its natural state. It also tastes like blackstrap molasses.
Integral Panela
Until we write again...

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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