Most of us can agree that sugar is quite delicious.  As a matter of fact, most of us would have a hard time naming a dish that doesn't have any sugar in it! Most items that we purchase at the grocery store, especially processed foods, have a ton of added sugar.  We know that sugar is quite bad for our health - it causes inflammation, cavities, and in large quantities can contribute to diseases such as diabetes and obesity.  But if this is the case, why do food manufacturing companies add so much sugar to the foods we eat?! Well, there are a few reasons for this.  The number one reason is probably because sugar is extremely addicting.  More addicting, in fact, than cocaine! That's right! Don't believe me? Try going completely sugar free for a week and let me know how that feels (I've tried and it's extremely difficult!!).  As you can imagine, if people are addicted to your product, that makes them much more likely to buy it again!

Another reason so much sugar has been added to our foods is as a result of the "low fat" and "fat-free" trend that became very popular in the 90s.  Because fat was being removed from a number of different food items, the flavor had to be preserved somehow.  So there you have the solution: add lots of sugar! 

So now, pretty much every food you find in restaurants and in stores will have been prepared with added sugar.  Americans consume over 60 pounds of this added sugar per year (that's added sugar and does not include sugar that is found naturally in foods, such as fruit sugar).  if you want to cut down on your sugar consumption, try preparing more of your own meals and instead of adding cane sugar, try these natural sugar substitutes for added nutrition and less of the harmful side effects!

1. Honey - this is a very nutritious sugar substitute that can be easily used in place of cane sugar.  it will satisfy your sweet tooth without the added guilt!

2. Agave Nectar - this sweetener, made from the same plant as tequila, can be an excellent sugar substitute! It is slightly sweeter than cane sugar, so you can use less of it, thereby sparing some of the calories. 

3. Stevia - this is a plant-based sweetener that is also sweeter in taste than sugar.  Unlike many other sugar substitutes, stevia will not affect your blood sugar the way that glucose does and can therefore be a potentially good option for diabetic individuals. However, be sure to talk to your doctor before testing it out!

Natural Sugar Substitutes

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