It’s time to break up with refined sugar. Why? Because, refined sugar does not contribute anything to your health. You don’t have to quit ALL sugar; you just need to find a more nutritious alternative.
Whether that alternative is one you’ll feel good about consuming, or one that simply doesn’t aid in the deterioration of your health… you’ll never look back.
If this idea may seem scary to you, repeat after me:
“My name is _____ and I am a sugar addict”.
Whether you consume white sugar, brown sugar or an artificial sweetener like Splenda, there is little to no nutritional benefit in consuming these on a regular basis.
Worst of all, consistently consuming these refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, not only robs you of your health, but can also lead to unnecessary immune deterioration.
But let’s get to the positives…
When eliminating sugar from your diet, don’t think of it as something you will miss, but rather something you will gain.
There are great, nutritious alternatives to sugar; stevia, date sugar and agave nectar (just to name a few). This week’s Sunday Staples highlights the many benefits of consuming raw honey as an alternative to sugar.
I have found that switching to raw honey was the easiest transition to make. Not only because it tastes great, but because it provides a plethora of health benefits.
Food is pleasurable, but even more so when there is a wealth of benefits attached.
For over three years, raw honey has personally become a staple replacement for sugar in my life. Not only do I use a tablespoon of raw honey in my morning cup of tea, but I also use it to sweeten my occasional coffee, smoothies and recipes that call for sugar. A teaspoon of honey can go a long way to sweeten that homemade pasta sauce you love to make! Choosing raw honey has helped kick my refined sugar cravings to the curb for good.
What is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is the nutritionally superior version of conventional honey found in most grocery stores. Raw honey is complex, unprocessed and contains a rich source of antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients (often lacking in processed honey).
Contrary to popular belief, this type of sugar is actually good for you. The variety of sugars found in raw honey, slowly release into the bloodstream. Due to the complex combination of sugars, like oligosaccharides, raw honey does not spike up your blood sugar levels like regular sugar does.
“The rich oligosaccharide content (sucrose, maltose, trehalose, turanose, panose, 1-kestose, 6-kestose and palatinose) in honey has been linked to the antidiabetic effects of honey”
It turns out that the statement, “sugar gives you diabetes”, is really an overgeneralization. It really depends on the quality and the type of sugar. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is sure to offer you zero health benefits, while sugars found in honey & fruits can be regularly incorporated into a nutritious diet.
The number of rich minerals contained within raw honey, (such as zinc, selenium, copper, calcium, potassium, chromium, manganese – just to name a few) have been recognized for “their role in the reduction of elevated blood glucose, maintenance of normal glucose tolerance and insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells”.
Why not regular honey?
Spoiler alert: “Regular”, aka processed honey, contains virtually no real honey.
If your honey comes in a plastic container shaped like a cute bear, you can be almost positive that it contains high fructose corn syrup as the major ingredient.
And why would anybody need that?
Raw honey, on the other hand, is excellent to consume, because it also serves as a prebiotic; a fiber compound feeding the good bacteria in your gut. The “full package” of sugars and nutrients contained within raw honey, actually helps prevent bad bacteria growth in the GI tract, and this is attributed to “the modulation of gut, microbiota or through the systemic effects of oligosaccharides”.
What does that mean for your health? Studies have linked gut health directly to brain function, liver function and pancreatic activity. The benefits that come along with the consumption of honey go far beyond just the regulation of blood sugar, but they also extend to the health of your brain.
So, how does honey help you maintain a healthy gut? The first step to a healthy gut is incorporating a healthy amount of prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet, and honey isn’t a bad way to start.
Feeding the good bacteria in your gut means, minimizing all the bad bacteria that lead to sickness, bloating, weight gain and acne.
What type of Raw Honey should I look for?
The type of raw honey to look for really depends on your personal taste buds. From a nutritional standpoint, the darker the color, the more antioxidant and nutritional compounds it typically contains. This rich content is exemplified in Manuka honey, a deep amber honey from New Zealand, famous for its potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
“Honey, particularly the darker varieties, contains numerous powerful antioxidants, including some that are nonexistent or rare in fruits and vegetables”, C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD
Sometimes, you will see labels that say “clover”, “buckwheat” or “orange blossom” (just to name a few) describing the type of raw honey. These labels mean that the pollen was derived from those particular plants.
The source of the honey directly influences the taste. For instance, a buckwheat honey will be much stronger in taste compared to a clover honey, while lavender honey will have a distinct lavender taste.
If you are transitioning from sugar and do not want an overpowering taste (of buckwheat for example), I would suggest going for the lighter colors of raw honey (derived from clover and other plants like orange blossom) as they will be milder in taste and will serve as an easy transition from sugar.
Where can I find Raw Honey?
Raw honey will most often be labeled at natural grocery stores as “Raw Honey”. You can also be sure to get high quality, locally derived, raw honey at your local farmers market.
Here are a few Organic Opulence picks to look for when shopping:
This is a great honey to choose for your initial transition from sugar. I personally love their clover honey, as it contains a mild flavor, rich texture and does not overpower beverages (like tea).
This honey is sustainably sourced, and is completely organic and authentically derived. I personally love their “white honey”, as it is milder in taste. Heavenly Organics is an excellent brand, being the first to become certified “glyphosate-free”. Their honey is derived from wild hives situated in remote locations surrounding the Himalayan Mountains.
This honey is top of the line when it comes to taste and nutritional benefits. Sourced from New Zealand, you can be sure to reap all the benefits raw honey has to offer from this raw Manuka honey. I personally love their Wedderspoon Gold Manuka honey, as it has a rich creamy texture and the taste is not overpowering and absolutely delicious. This raw honey is perfect for just about any use.
For more information regarding the health benefits of honey, I encourage you to check out these resources below:
Great article! I LOVE honey and now I feel great about using it and knowledgeable about which ones to buy!
Thank you, Ellen! So glad to hear you enjoyed this article.
And, yes! For us honey-lovers the health benefits are simply an added bonus!
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