By Janet Lee, Guest Blogger
February is a month associated with love, so it’s appropriate that February is National Heart Health month. Due to the Valentine’s holiday, February also brings lots of chocolate or sweet, sugary desserts to show others or ourselves how much we are loved. While it’s perfectly fine to enjoy sweets, it’s also beneficial to realize how much sugar we are putting into our bodies. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes between 150 and 170 pounds of refined sugar a year.
Interestingly, less than 100 years ago, the average American consumed roughly four pounds of sugar a year. Needless to say, that our consumption of sugar has skyrocketed. The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Heart Association states that women should consume only 20 grams of sugar a day or 5 teaspoons. For men, it is 36 grams or 9 teaspoons a day. Children are at 12 grams or 3 teaspoons a day. 1 soda = 40 grams of sugar or 10 teaspoons.
Sugar is the New Fat
Despite 40 years of Americans being brainwashed into thinking that fat is bad, it turns out it’s sugar, not fat, that makes us sick and overweight.
The science is beyond question. Sugar in all its forms is the root cause of our obesity epidemic and most of the chronic disease sucking the life out of our citizens and our economy — and, increasingly, the rest of the world. You name it, it’s caused by sugar: heart disease, cancer, dementia, type 2 diabetes, depression, and even acne, infertility and impotence.
Flour is even worse than sugar.
We consume about 146 pounds of flour a year! That’s about one pound of sugar and flour combined every day for every man, woman and child in America. And flour raises blood sugar even more than table sugar; even whole-wheat flour!
Here’s another shocking fact: Sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine.
This is not a limited phenomenon. It’s the reason nearly 70 percent of Americans and 40 percent of kids are overweight. In one study, Harvard scientists found that a high-sugar milkshake (compared to a low-sugar one) not only spiked blood sugar and insulin and led to sugar cravings, but it caused huge changes in the brain. The sugar lit up the addiction center in the brain like the sky on the Fourth of July. Think cocaine cookies, morphine muffins or smack soda.
What to do?
So, to combat all of this unhealthy sugar consumption, it’s good to find alternative foods to eat, which can provide us with the same satisfaction that sugar cravings need, but create positive benefits and are much healthier! One popular alternative to unhealthy sugars is fruit. Here are some healthy fruit options, as well as a tasty recipe for a sweet yet healthy snack. Enjoy!
Great fruit options:
Raspberries, blackberries, Avocados, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit, Papaya, Strawberries, apples, Cantaloupe melon, Tomatoes and Guava.
- 1 cup raw almonds, soaked and dehydrated or sun-dried
- 1 ½ cups dates, soaked 20 minutes in filtered water
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup shredded coconut, sulfite-free
- Zest of 2 organic lemons
- Juice of 1 lemon
1. Place almonds in a food processor to break into small pieces.
2. Add in dates and blend till it forms a ball. Do not over process.
3. Take mixture out and place in a medium bowl.
4. Add in remaining ingredients and mix well with hands or spoon.
5. Press mixture into a 9x13 pan and refrigerate for 1 hour or make into balls.
About the Author, Janet Lee
Janet Lee is a Raw Food Chef, Holistic Nutritionist, Life Coach and Health Educator. She is the owner of “A Healthy Journey: Where Small Steps Create Lasting Rewards.”
Janet is SWIHA nutrition instructor and enjoys sharing her passion for food with the Raw Food Cuisine class. She is also the instructor for Nutritional Assessment and Coaching. She is also an avid cyclist and hiker and enjoys the outdoors year round.
Visit her website: Livahealthyjourney