Sugar is perhaps the single biggest health problem the country is facing. Everything from spaghetti sauce to oatmeal has sugar added to it. It’s causing weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems.

Giving up sugar entirely is difficult. Your body and your taste buds have come to expect it. Many people turn to sugar substitutes to cut back on the calories and still feed the addiction. Unfortunately, most sugar substitutes come with a number of potential side effects. And many studies have shown that sugar substitutes like aspartame still cause problems with insulin and weight gain.

So what’s the solution? How do you still enjoy sweet flavors without the health problems and weight gain?

Consider Using Natural Sweeteners

There are three basic natural sweeteners that are commonly recommended by health experts. They are:

• Honey
• Agave
• Stevia
• Molasses

The reason these sweeteners are better than sugar and sugar substitutes is multifaceted. First, they’re much sweeter than sugar. You only need small amount of Stevia, agave, molasses, or honey to sweeten your food.

Secondly, because they’re natural and minimally processed sweeteners they’re much healthier for you. Your body responds to them, and processes them, better. Let’s take a quick look at each of these four natural sweeteners.

Honey

Honey is the byproduct of bees. There are actually hundreds of different types of honey depending on the flowers the bees frequent. Honey is one and a half times sweeter than sugar and organic honey is free from preservatives and chemicals. You can use honey as a substitute in any baking recipe. It’s also good in smoothies and tea.

Molasses

Molasses is a natural sweetener that is also much sweeter than sugar. However, it has a very strong taste and is often only reserved for certain recipes like cookies and breads.

Stevia

Stevia is derived from a plant related to the sunflower. It is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar. It also doesn’t cause the same rise in blood sugar that sugar, honey and molasses can cause. It has been deemed safe by the FDA and is found in many “sugar free” beverages and sports nutrition. You can also buy it in packages like sugar and use it in recipes at home or to sweeten your coffee or tea. Take care if you’ve never tried Stevia. A few people have reported headaches.

Agave

Agave is a plant that actually makes a number of different products including tequila. The sap from the agave plant is commonly used as a sweetener. It has a lower glucose level which means it doesn’t have the same effect on blood sugar. Additionally it is about one and a half times sweeter than sugar. It’s great as a sugar substitute in recipes and as a standalone sweetener for coffee, tea, smoothies and even puddings. You can readily find agave in your supermarket in the area where you normally buy honey and molasses.

If you’re struggling with weight gain or simply want to improve your health, consider using natural sweeteners. They’re better than sugar and significantly healthier than sugar substitutes.

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