Blended For Wellness: The Lowdown on Refined vs Natural Sugars
Sugar is always a hot topic. It's also one that can be a little confusing. In this Blended For Wellness, we're sharing the key differences between naturally occurring sugars (found in foods like fruits, veggies & grains) and refined sugars (a processed food found in desserts, candy, and drinks). And, since having a 'sweet tooth' is a reality, we've suggested a few alternatives to refined sugar that are worth experimenting with along with our top picks for Blended spoon-from-the-pack 'nice cream' blends.
Natural sugar is commonly found in nutrient-rich foods that have not been processed (eg. fruits & veggies) and contain essential vitamins, minerals, water, antioxidants, and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Also, natural sugars often come within foods containing the compounds necessary for the proper digestion of sugar. Natural sources of sugar are often in higher-fibre foods that are digested slower, which helps you feel full for longer and supports stabilizing your metabolism and blood sugar levels.
Natural sugars are extracted from sources to produce the refined sugars found in many prepared foods. Two examples are table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Refined sugar is unhealthy because it's been processed and stripped of all nutrients (which your body needs to metabolize it). The lack of fibre causes a hit to the blood stream quickly, which gives you sugar highs and lows ("crashes") as well as sugar cravings (sugar is highly addictive). Ingesting refined sugar causes the body to release an overload of insulin to aid in its digestion, which can result in stored glycogen and weight-gain.
Refined sugars are typically added to foods and beverages to improve taste. They’re considered empty calories because they contain virtually no vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, fiber, or other beneficial compounds.
Refined sugar has been proven to increase the risk of health issues like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and stroke.
Alternatives to Refined Sugar
Raw & Unrefined Sugar still retains natural nutrients like iron and magnesium. It's also free of chemicals and pesticides.
Coconut Sugar is extracted from the sap of the coconut palm, and is fairly similar to refined sugar except that it contains some nutrients and antioxidants.
Honey is often praised for its health benefits, containing beneficial antioxidants and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It's been shown to improve risk factors for disease.
Molasses is made from boiling down sugar, and contains antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that support bone and heart health.
Yacon Syrup is extracted from the yacón plant and has a dark colour and thicker consistency similar to molasses. Yacon Syrup may support appetite reduction and healthy gut bacteria.
Monk Fruit sweetener is extracted from monk fruit and contains zero calories, fructose, or glucose. It is high in unique antioxidants called mogrosides, which make it 100-250 times sweeter than refined sugar.
Maple Syrup is cooked down from the sap of maple trees, and contains antioxidants as well as many healthy minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese.
Xylitol and Erythritol are sugar alcohols often found in fruits and vegetables. They contain fewer calories than refined sugar and do not raise blood sugar/insulin levels, although they can cause digestive issues.
Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of a South American shrub. It contains zero calories and has no known negative health effects.
Blended For You Nice Cream Ideas
Choco Banana Hero: all the chocolaty goodness without the sugary badness (we've even got zucchini tucked into this one).
Nutty Athlete: a delicious banana-almond buttery, spinach packed combo.
Inside & Out Acai: Nutritionally balanced and loaded up with berries and Acai to make it an easy, mega-nutritious, antioxidant-packed, immunity-boosting bowl of deliciousness.
Blue Coconut Keto (for the low-carb fans): we designed this smoothie to make getting your daily nutrients a sea-breeze (without the drop in nutrition that usually comes from carb-cutting).
Green Beginnings: For all the Blenders who like a refreshing green smoothie/ nice cream vibe that's still smooth and creamy.
Nutty Chocolate Lover (dropping next week): treat your mind and body to the ultimate 'nice cream' blend. Get the benefits of banana, cauliflower, almond butter, vegan protein, hemp seeds & cacao.