Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Whole Foods

Honey flowing into a jar.

Human beings’ most primal ancestors evolved eating nature’s sweets: monkeys and apes spent lazy forest days in fervent search of succulent treats, dipping their fingers into honey-rich beehives and palming freshly plucked jungle fruit. It is our natural inheritance to crave sweetness. Despite bee stings or bad teeth, sugar has always kept us hankering for another taste.

Unlike that of our forebears, modern culture drives mass production and consumption of processed sugars and sweeteners. Moderation is key, and it’s valuable to recognize whole food alternatives for overly refined and often chemical laden products. Fortunately, nature offers plenty of wholesome substitutes for white sugar, corn syrup and sucralose! 

Give these natural sweeteners a taste:

  • Raw Local Honey

With cancer-fighting antioxidants and allergy-alleviating properties, honey is a powerful sweet. A low-glycemic index also prevents spikes in blood sugar, curbing mid-day crashes and later cravings.  BONUS: You can also use raw honey as an antiseptic and healing agent for cuts, scrapes or burns.

  • Real Maple Syrup

100% pure maple syrup is a lower-calorie, mineral-rich alternative to pure honey.  In fact, recent studies tout its cancer-fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Blackstrap Molasses

A byproduct of turning sugar cane into sugar crystals, blackstrap molasses is a surprisingly nutrient-rich syrup. Unlike many empty sugars and sweeteners, it’s loaded with iron, potassium and calcium, offering more iron in a tablespoon than three ounces of red meat.

  • Sucanat

A brown, less processed version of table sugar made by heating and drying the juice extracted from sugar cane. It even retains small amounts of iron, potassium, and vitamin B6.

  • Stevia

A better alternative to other calorie-free sweeteners, Stevia is a natural choice for the calorie-conscious. Extracted directly from the leaves of the stevia plant, it’s found in a powered or liquid form. Like an herb, its leaves can be used for sweetening beverages and cooking.

Go ahead, embrace nature’s confections, and feel better about your sweet inclinations!

— By Sydney Micucci, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.