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The Sugar Method

Talk about conflicted relationships! Sugar is exactly that for many of us. It returns our love by letting us down, and worse. It gives us “std’s,” or “sugar transmitted diseases.”

Glucose itself is not the problem. Too much added sugar is. As Harvard’s Dr. Frank Hu writes, “"The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke," says Dr. Hu. (1)

Does that mean no more desserts or sweet snacks? Relax. We can have our sugar if we keep it natural. It’s even beneficial, providing it’s wrapped up with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, that’s the way nature packages fruit and vegetables.

I’m happy to report that sugar in fruit and veggies is different from refined, added sugar. While eating refined sugar results in blood sugar spikes for many people, eating that sugar contained in a piece of fruit does not. In fact eating berries has been shown to blunt the insulin spike from high-glycemic foods like white bread. (2)

Here’s the lowdown on sugar: it is a part of all fruit, vegetables, and dairy. You can’t avoid it, but that’s okay because your body runs on it. You need it for energy. Maybe you think your energy comes from eating carbohydrates like potatoes, or heavy proteins like meat. Your body won’t use those foods for energy until it breaks them down into the simple sugar called glucose.

So, we can enjoy sugar and still be healthy, if we do it right. That means using very little processed sugar and mostly using fruits and veggies to sweeten food. How? You probably already do this by topping cereal with fresh or dried berries. You can also better balance ground wheat flours (hopefully whole wheat rather than white or bleached,) by adding higher fiber ingredients like beans to them. A friend’s granddaughter loves her bean brownies. (Actually double bean brownies, since chocolate comes from a bean too.)

A tasty maple muffin recipe from The Happy Herbivore uses well mashed sweet potato or pureed pumpkin, and applesauce. True, it also uses three quarters cup of brown sugar and a quarter cup of maple syrup, but that still results in ten grams of sugar per serving, less than two teaspoons, and accompanied by almost three grams of fiber, and other useful nutrients.

Using a whole food, adding fruit and vegetable method of sweetening, gives you less calories and more real food value. While a cup of granulated sugar is about 751 calories, and of honey 992 calories, a sliced banana is 128 calories, a cup of whole blueberries 90 calories, and a diced apple 59 calories. (3)

And keep in mind that refined sugar is all calories and zero nutrition. That’s why even fruit like dried dates, which are often used as a refined sugar substitute, and are similar in calories, are a better choice. They contain real food value, such as fiber, selenium, magnesium, calcium, and copper. They have a lower glycemic index. (4)

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy sugar without guilt? Use the whole food method, and enjoy a healthy relationship.

2.Greger, Dr. M., How Not To Die, p. 291

3.Barkie, K., Sweet and Sugarfree, Appendix IV

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