Cutting down on added sugar? You don’t have to go cold turkey, and you don’t have to hate life as watch your co-workers chow down on donuts. It turns out there are lots of yummy naturally sweet foods that won’t spike blood sugar as much as added sugar and pack in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Whole Fruit – this is my top recommendation for folks looking for ways to satisfy a sweet tooth crying out for a little fix. If biting into a sweet orange just isn’t cutting it, try something deceptively decadent like a medjool date, maybe dipped in coconut or nut butter. Apples are also very naturally sweet and make great snacks dipped in nut butter. Whole fruits pack in fiber and nutrients missing from table sugar.
- Sweet potatoes and tubers – Sweet potatoes are one of those magical foods – not only are they sweet and tasty, but they are jam packed with beneficial nutrients. This infographic is a pretty nifty break down of the fiber (keeps you regular and may help clear away “bad” cholesterol), Vitamin C, A, B6 (helps regulate homocysteine, which may help prevent heart disease) Potassium and Calcium you can get from sweet potatoes. Don’t add sugar to these naturally sweet puppies, just boil or roast to bring out the natural sugars, top with your favorite flavors and enjoy!
- Nut Butters – But nut butters aren’t sweet, why are they on this list? Well, they are basically flavor ninjas, full of healthy fats and protein, and in my own personal book, they’re one of the most effective substitutes for added sugar. You can add almond, peanut and other nut butters to smoothies, cereal, oatmeal or granola rather than adding extra sugars. This helps me feel full longer, adds a whole lotta flavor and helps dampen the sugar spikes some of these foods might have.
- Squash & Beets – Why did I group these two together? I don’t have a great reason other than they’re both lightly sweet veggies that pack a ton of nutrients. Butternut Squash has a lightly sweet flavor and a ton of vitamins (Vitamin A, C, Folate, a bunch of B vitamins) and beets are similar, plus they have iron. Try roasting them to caramelize the natural sugars.
Maple Syrup or Honey – Generally sugar is sugar. Recent studies seem to show that there isn’t much difference between less refined sugars and regular table sugar or coconut sugar or evaporated cane juice or whatever is the latest trendy sugar-like item. Maple and Honey bring vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to the game, but they are still sweeteners. They have less sucrose than pure table sugar ounce per ounce, though, and using a bit on your pancakes or in your tea can make life sweet!