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SUGAR AND I: A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP

We all now know that industrial sugar makes people sick in the long term. So, it is neither healthy nor does our body need sugar, because we can make it ourselves from starchy foods. Unfortunately, sugar is addictive. For the American doctor Sara Gottfried, sugar is therefore no less than heroin or crack cocaine. It has been proven in rats that the same brain areas are activated when Oreo cookies are consumed as when cocaine is consumed … you can read about this in her book “The Hormone Reset Diet1 (associate link). In her book she even pleads for a renouncement of sugar. But what should we do when we crave sweets? We women are already at a disadvantage due to hormonal reasons: at least I have regular cravings for sweets.

Unfortunately, the same applies to most natural alternatives to industrial sugar – purely biochemically they are the same as industrial sugar. Apart from honey, they are all of vegetable origin, but they are not healthier.

“Often praised alternatives, like the agave syrup popular with vegans, are unfortunately not one bit better – agave syrup even consists almost purely of fructose …”

– Bast Kast, The Diet Compass4*

ALTERNATIVES TOHOUSEHOLD SUGAR

You can find a very good comparison of the different varieties, including their ratings at Utopia. Here is a very short overview of what is available:

  • Honey: one of the oldest sweeteners in the world
  • Agave syrup: from the thickened juice of Mexican agave
  • Maple syrup: tapped from the trunks of the sugar maple and thickened
  • Rice syrup: obtained from rice starch
  • Coconut sugar: obtained from the flowers of the coconut palm tree
  • Stevia: obtained from the leaves of the sweet herb native to South America
  • Xylitol: also known as “birch sugar”, but mainly obtained from other vegetable raw materials through a high input of energy
  • Erythritol: obtained from corn or other vegetable raw materials that provide dextrose, which is fermented with the help of fungi
  • Xucker (affiliate link): a brand of Xucker GmbH that consists of a mixture of erythritol and xylitol
  • Date syrup: obtained from boiled, filtered dates
  • Date sugar: obtained from ground whole, dried dates without stones

SWEET, BUT ALSOFULL OF FIBRE

Date sugar differs from all other alternatives because it consists of whole fruit including the contained fiber. Fiber is good for many things, including preventing the sugar content of our blood from rising so quickly after eating carbohydrate-rich foods. This is simply because glucose is released into the blood more slowly due to the presence of components that are indigestible for us – a.k.a. fiber. And that is in any case better than if we eat purely sugar. So, if it has to be sweet, it is better to combine it with everything else that the fruit has to offer. And dates have a lot of that:

  • Dates are a very good source of fiber. The ratio of total carbohydrates to fiber is 9:1 for dates, so for every 9 grams of carbohydrates, there is 1 gram of fibre2. And that’s quite a good number.° 
  • Dates also contain a whole range of different B vitamins2
  • and they contain minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and chloride2
  • and they have a relatively high iron and copper content in trace minerals2

RECIPE DATE SWEETENER

If you have a blender, you can make your own date sweetener. I personally use my Vitamix – Type A2500i Ascent (associate link), but any high-speed blender or food processor will do the trick. The following recipe is inspired from the book “The Midlife Kitchen” (associate link) by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice. When you’ve got all your ingredients ready, it literally takes 5 minutes and you have a whole jar filled with sweetener that lasts for about two weeks.

  • Set aside a clean glass with a screw cap – you can also rinse it out with boiling water first.
  • Set aside a rubber spatula.
  • Set your kitchen scale on your counter.
  • Put 200g of pitted dates in your blender or food processor – You can use any type of date; they don’t necessarily have to be the most expensive Medjool dates, but they should always come from a certified organic cultivation. Conventionally grown dates are fumigated with a substance called bromomethane, which destroys the ozone layer.
  • Squeeze ½ a lemon and add the juice to the dates in your blender.
  • Measure out 300ml of still water and add this in as well.
  • Start your blender on a low setting for a few seconds and then gradually increase the speed – this will be pretty loud. When everything has turned into a homogeneous light brown mass, switch off your blender.
  • The whole thing should have roughly the consistency of apple sauce. If necessary, add a little more water.
  • Now pour your date sweetener into the prepared glass. You can try it directly in yoghurt or porridge. I use the Ball “wide mouth” jars and a funnel (associate link), because you can pour everything more easily into the jar.
  • Screw the lid on the glass and put it in the refrigerator.

*) Partner links from Amazon: As an Amazon Associate NOBODYTOLME from sisu health GmbH earns with qualified purchases.


1) Sara Gottfried, The Hormone Reset Diet (associate link), 2016

2) https://www.naehrwertrechner.de/naehrwerte/F504000/Dattel, these numbers apply to whole dates – i.e. whole fruits without stones     

3) Patrick J. Skerrett, The trick to recognizing a good whole grain: Use carb-to-fiber ratio of 10-to-1, 14.01.2013, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-trick-to-recognizing-a-good-whole-grain-use-carb-to-fiber-ratio-of-10-to-1-201301145794

4) Bas Kast, The Diet Compass (associate link), 2018, S. 160

https://utopia.de/ratgeber/zuckerersatz/

https://utopia.de/ratgeber/datteln-kaufen-naehrwerte-anbau/

https://eatsmarter.de/lexikon/warenkunde/obst/datteln

https://eatsmarter.de/ernaehrung/gesund-ernaehren/datteln-gesund

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