Good news! You do have some healthier options.
We’ve been looking at sweeteners that are hidden poisons. Now we’re going to examine some choices that are natural and good-for-you, as well as some that are natural-and-not-bad-for-you. Unfortunately, they all have their negative sides and dangers when overused. We’ll take a look at those issues, too.
The first on our list today is the oldest and most widely used throughout the world — honey. This natural sweetener has a lot going for it. It provides an array of vitamins and minerals rather than empty calories. Honey has been an important ingredient in folk medicines for centuries because of its anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing properties.
Can it help with your weight problem? It depends. It does have calories — about 22 in a teaspoon, compared to 16 in a teaspoon of sugar. However, honey is twice as sweet as sugar, so if you use half as much there is not that much difference.
An interesting study was done by Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand a few years ago on rats. One group of rats was fed honey water in addition to rat chow. The second group received sugar water and the third was the placebo group. The sugar group became obese, but the honey rats didn’t gain any more weight than the placebo.
If only calories counted, the rats lapping honey should have been fatter. The factor that probably changed the outcome is the glycemic index. Honey has a lower G.I. rating than sugar — 55 instead of 64. That places it, just barely, into the yellow for caution category on the Green Light/Red Light meal plan. It rates very low moderate instead of the high moderate of sugar. In addition, there are indications that the unique mixture of fructose and glucose make it optimally used for energy without causing a sugar dump in the bloodstream and a resulting insulin peak.
Does this mean you can buy a giant economy jar of honey and plan to see a corresponding giant reduction in your waist size? Well, probably not. If you slather it on a thick slice of french bread which is coated in butter — not a diet food. If you add honey indiscriminately to an already overloaded meal plan, you are not likely to see a difference.
But if you cut out sugar and use a bit of honey to help you wean off your sweet tooth — yes, it is likely to be a boon to your plan. If you substitute honey for sugar in your dessert recipes — and partake moderately rather than eating the whole batch of cookies by yourself — you can have your dessert and your weight loss, too. You might lose faster with no dessert, but we are talking eating for a lifetime now. Are you NEVER going to eat a sweet treat? Not many of us are going down that narrow path. Better to have some alternatives which are healthier and enjoy them occasionally without guilt.
Tomorrow — some interesting honey cures from folk medicine and ways to substitute honey for sugar in recipes.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown