Get Real with Sugar

30 Days to Green Your Diet - Real sugar is a greener option than artificial sweeteners.

Photo: Marcelo Wain / Istock

EAT SUGAR, YES WE MEAN IT

Of course, we’re not suggesting you up your sugar intake. But for the sweet things you must have, try going with the real stuff instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes.
Sugar substitutes are chemicals that offer a sweet kick with fewer calories. Those chemicals have been linked with cancer in laboratory animals, and though that claim has been debated over the past few years, surely you’d be better off without the risk in your diet.
If the calories in real sugar are what bother you, try eliminating one artificially sweetened item from your regimen, such as diet soda, each day or week (depending on your habit), instead of switching to nondiet. And relax — one teaspoon of sugar has just 15 calories. So go ahead, pour a packet into your cup of coffee, and take a few additional steps to burn it off.
One greener sugar option is turbinado or raw sugar, which is made from evaporated sugar cane juice. Raw sugar does not require the use of bone char, which is used to whiten some refined sugars. (Though raw sugar is brown in color, it is not the same as brown sugar, which is often just refined white sugar coated in molasses.)
There are also a few natural sweeteners on the market. Stevia is a noncaloric sweetener made from an herb originally grown in South America. While the FDA has approved stevia only as a dietary supplement, U.S. fans use it to sweeten their coffee and tea, and generally as a substitute for sugar. It has been used as a sweetener in other countries for years. Agave nectar is a natural sweetener derived from the agave plant, found mostly in Mexico (yes the same one used to make tequila!).

By Annie Bell Muzaurieta

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