At MJF, we are pretty sweet on life. However, there is one thing that we are not so down on: agave. Agave nectar/ syrup is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food. What do we mean by this? Most agave is highly processed and therefore becomes simply a syrup with anywhere from 55% to 90% fructose. This actually makes it way higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. Excessive fructose creates gut problems, contributes to acne and breakouts, raises blood pressure, causes weight gain and- most severely- can trigger diabetes or heart disease. If you want to read more about our nitty gritty scientific findings on the truth about agave click here.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and are not down with chemicals, preservatives or the weird stuff: no worries, we got you. Try one of these 5 MJF-approved “clean” sugar alternatives:
1. Dates: These dried fruits are not only really delicious but they contain an array of antioxidants, trace minerals and both soluble and insoluble fiber- great for weight loss and sustained energy. Two or three medium size dates in a smoothie will be more than enough to sweeten even the greenest blend.
2. Coconut Nectar: A clean alternative to sugar, this is also the single most sustainable sweetener in the world. Not only is it good for the environment, it also has a variety of positive effects on the body. Coconut nectar can alleviate anxiety, increase heart health and decrease your waistline due to the fact is high in naturally forming electrolytes and life-buildling essential amino acids.
3. Coconut Palm Sugar: Coconuts are one of the most miraculous foods and the benefits of them just keep coming. This sweetener is made from dried and crystalized sap from the coconut tree. You use it just as you would normally use sugar, it is a perfect 1:1 ratio. It has a wonderfully rich, caramel flavor and is gentler on blood sugar than regular sugar. You also get a shot of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients!
4. Maple Syrup: Good for more than just waffles! This all-natural sweetener comes right from the maple tree and is free from any coloring or additives. It is also high in zinc, calcium and the all-important mineral manganese, which plays an important role in energy production and antioxidant defenses. Pure maple syrup will not spike blood sugar and is a safe alternative for those with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Just make sure when you’re shopping you get Grade B which is darker and more nutrient dense than Grade A.
5. Raw Honey: One of Earth’s most amazing gifts: raw, unfiltered honey is high in enzymes, has a great trace mineral content and phenomenal healing compounds like proopolis. Look for the “wild” versions- the cheaper, heated or treated versions kill off the live enzymes, can contain illegal additives and may sneakily add in high fructose corn syrup. 1 tablespoon can sweeten any recipe, help fend off seasonal allergies and is gentle on blood sugar levels. Bonus: by buying local wild honey you can support your local beekeeper and save our essential but dwindling bee population.
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