From Maria: Got a nasty little sugar habit? You’re not alone.
The average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar a year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s nearly eight times more than The American Heart Association recommends as the maximum acceptable amount of refined sugar intake a day.
If you ask some progressive doctors, like pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Daniel Lustig, whose lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth has nearly 6 million views, it’s precisely 152 pounds more than you should be eating.
As tasty as it is, too much sugar can wreak havoc on your health, waistline and skin. It’s the main culprit in weight gain, it significantly increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and it very well may contribute to acne and premature aging. Doesn’t exactly sound so appetizing any more, does it?
Life would be pretty boring without sweets, so instead of empty calorie candy bars or cookies, get your sugar fix from foods that are sweetened naturally with fruit or a gentler sweetener, like date sugar, stevia, maple syrup or coconut sugar.
The more naturally sweet foods you eat, the less you’ll crave of the refined stuff! As we approach Halloween, stave off the bad stuff with a few of my favorite health(ier) sweets and treats:
Date rolls are simply date paste rolled in coconut or nuts. They taste super sweet, yet there is no refined sugar, you’re just eating fruit! When you consume the entire fruit, as opposed to refined sugar, you get added fiber, vitamins and minerals, making it a much better choice than processed sweets. You can usually find these in the bulk section or produce section.
Hail Merry Coconut Macaroons
Made with shredded coconut, almond flour, and sweetened with maple syrup, these luscious coconut bites will satisfy a sweet craving, fast.
When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Look for brands that are 72% or higher, and choose those that are sweetened with maple syrup, date sugar, or coconut sugar. My personal favorite is Vita Organics Orange Almond Bar.
Coconut chips are just pieces of dried coconut, typically with nothing else added. They’re subtly sweet and perfect for snacking, because they will fill you up, fast. I’m a fan of the organic dried coconut by Go Smile!
It may not seem as exciting as some of the other sweets, but it’s really just as satisfying! Apples, pears and bananas are a great mid-afternoon snack, and they conveniently naturally come in a single serving. Clementines are wonderful in the winter, while fresh-cut melon hits the spot in the summer. If you can get your hand on fresh persimmons or figs, grab them, they’re an especially delicious treat.
For more from Maria, read her recent columns on the site—and for healthier sweet recipes, like 60-second banana ice cream, creamy carob pudding, pumpkin pie, or chocolate truffles, head to mariamarlowe.com.
Images courtesy of Maria Marlowe
Blueberry image photographed by Irina Smirnova