This is one I fell for myself a few years back. So many vegans and raw foodists rave about agave that I didn’t really stop and think it could be too good to be true. Agave is a super sweet liquid that is often touted as the “healthy” or “low GI” alternative to sugar. A lot of research has confirmed that it’s hardly any better than high fructose corn syrup. Agave is also mostly highly processed, and super high in fructose.
What should we eat instead? Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, Date paste, Stevia, Coconut sugar, Yacon and Molasses...These are all great alternatives, make sure they are pure and good quality with no added ingredients.
I’m a big advocate of buying fresh whole foods and steering clear of packaged goods. Realistically though, many of us will end up with some packaged foods in our kitchen. Reading the label is your best guide to choosing the most healthful options. How can you tell whether one breakfast cereal, for example, is better than another? Here are some tips for checking the Nutrition Facts panel:
1- Check the serving size and servings per container. Serving size is always the first item on the label and tells you how many portions are in the whole box. All other information is based on that serving size.
2- Check the saturated fat and trans fat content of the food. For a general healthful diet, keep saturated fat and cholesterol low and avoid trans fat completely. Look for foods that have 0 grams (g) of trans fat (alias name is “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”) and are lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol.
3-Compare the sodium content to the calories per serving. You’ll want to keep sodium as low as possible. A rule of thumb: choose items in which the sodium content is less than or equal to the calories per serving. For a food with 250 calories per serving, look for a sodium content of no more than 250 mg.
4-Look at the fiber content of the food you’re choosing. Any food with more than 5 g of fiber per serving is a good choice for fiber. Aim for 25 to 35 g of fiber per day in total.
5-Look at the sugar content of the food you’re considering. Steer clear of foods that have sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, corn sugar, fructose, or high-fruc- tose corn syrup among the first three ingredients. Other sugar aliases to watch for include agave nectar, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, maltose, fruit juice concentrate, and glucose.
6-Decipher the percent daily value. Located on the Nutrition Facts label, the percent daily value is based on someone who eats exactly 2,000 calories a day. It’s a useful tool to compare the nutritional value of two items quickly (assuming the serving size is the same). As a general rule, when the percent daily value
of a particular nutrient is around 20% or more, that’s considered high in that nutrient. That can be a good thing if it’s fiber we’re talking about, but not so good if it’s sodium or saturated fat.
Remember that the reason fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains don’t have nutritional panels is that they don’t need it! Try to keep packaged foods to about 10% of your diet and eat whole foods 90% of the time. It will reflect greatly in your health!
SUGAR CRAVINGS is one of the most common problems that people deal with daily. Most people with a sweet tooth substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners to save on calories.
One of the major problems with artificial sweeteners is that they constantly stroke your cravings for sweetened foods and drinks. But there are more serious drawbacks to aspartame.
Aspartame has been linked to a variety of health problems including birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders, epilepsy or seizures and migraines. Recent research from Japan has indicated that very low doses reduce sperm count quite considerably in mice. Artificial sweeteners are one of the worst things you can put in your body.
Sugar itself contributes to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and probably cancer, and artificial sweeteners aren’t much better. If you are addicted to eating something sweet, my advice is to wean yourself off both sugar and artificial sweeteners, and sweeten cereal and desserts with fruit instead for example. One great way to reduce your cravings for sugar (and I can vouch for this) is to add sweet vegetables to your diet. Most people report having cravings in the afternoon so you must make sure that you've eaten well throughout the day to avoid this...Add reasonable portions of foods like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato and beetroot to your meals and you’ll find your cravings and sweet tooth will disappear in no time!
MANUKA HONEY from New Zealand has long been valued for its 'miraculous' healing properties and is quickly gaining worldwide recognition. It is made by bees who collect nectar exclusively from New Zealand's native Manuka Bushes.
I came to know the honey a few years back when a friend was using it during an illness as her 'medicine' which she said had amazing healing effects.
Manuka honey contains a unique antibacterial ingredient not found in other honeys that makes it an effective antibiotic and wound healer. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Manuka Honey has been used to promote wound healing, relieve gastrointestinal problems, has the ability to fight infectious microbes and bacteria, reduces inflammation in the body and helps with cancer treatment.
This type of honey is hard to find and I was thrilled to come across it today at the Ripe organic store (it can also be found at Spinney's and Park n' Shop supermarkets). You'll notice that the bottle has UMF 5+ on it. 'Unique Manuka Factor' commonly known as UMF is the only worldwide standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength or quality of some strains of Manuka. It is a guarantee that the honey being sold to you has the special UMF antibacterial property and the number indicates the strength.
The higher the number, the higher the concentration. I usually buy UMF 10+ for daily consumption (or 5+ if they've run out of 10+!). UMF 15+ and 18+ increase significantly in price and have therapeutic concentrations - taking into consideration the significant price increase, I would recommend them more for people with chronic conditions who need the extra boost.
Are you ready for change? Join our Detox Workshops