Annie stepped outside on the patio to glorious summer sun and a faint calming breeze, “Hey, move over; I want to join you.”
LJ made room for Annie on the chaise lounge, “Here you go. I was saving your place,” he laughed.
“Here’s a Watermelon Agua Fresca I made for you, inspired by the ones Ruby had at the 4th of July picnic. I told her how much we enjoyed them. She uses sweet fruit, so added sugar is not needed. I’m glad because the deadly effects of refined white table sugar cannot be ignored; it seems it is in everything commercially produced. Eating processed food daily that includes refined sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast and colon cancers. A study showed normal-weight people doubled their risk of dying from heart disease by consistently eating sugar.”
LJ sipped, “this hits the spot. I know Ruby advocates for using healthy sugar alternatives. I asked her about the difference between cane, raw, and white sugar. She explained each is commercially produced and there’s no difference between them. All are made of sucrose, which, when digested, breaks down into fructose and glucose, causing a rise in blood sugar levels and other potential harm. Her preferred sweetener for drinks is Fruit Purees. She also uses them to replace certain syrups, as a spread on bread and crackers, in dessert recipes, and on hot or cold cereals.”
“Ruby used zero-calorie Purified Stevia Powder to make Peanut Butter Cookies. Stevia is mainly used to sweeten drinks. It is an ancient herb that is considerably sweeter than sugar and with no effect on blood sugar levels. Some say it has a bit of an aftertaste. It is vital to only use highly purified Stevia, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers safe for regular consumption. The FDA does not approve crude stevia extracts and stevia leaves.”
“We were low on Monk Fruit, so I bought more a few days ago, ” said LJ. “I only buy the pure variety with no additional additives or sweeteners. I like using it for baking. It’s 150 – 250 times sweeter than table sugar, so even though it is more expensive, you don’t need a lot.”
Annie nodded, “and no calories or carbs and does not raise blood sugar levels. That’s why I like your Carrot Orange Bread. It’s gluten and grain-free, low-carb, and since it’s sweetened with Monk Fruit, it’s healthy for people with diabetes. I also like Allulose. It’s only 70% as sweet as sugar, but I don’t like super sweet food anyway.”
“Isn’t that a rare sugar?” asked LJ.
“Yes, because it’s found in few foods; figs, wheat, jackfruit, and raisins have it. Unlike white sugar’s fructose and glucose, allulose is not rapidly absorbed and digested. It passes through your body without being metabolized and has 90% fewer calories than table sugar, making it a safe sweetener for people trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Researchers recently created a safe and effective way to scale up the production of Allulose. It is absorbed by the small intestine and excreted in the urine without metabolizing, so none of its calories are absorbed. It’s projected to gain in popularity quickly. The Vanilla ice cream we had at the picnic was made with Allulose.”
“If I had known it was practically calorie-free, I would have had more,” chuckled LJ. Sugar Alcohols are another category of natural sweeteners. There are several such as xylitol, maltitol, erythritol, and sorbitol. Despite their name, there’s no sugar or alcohol in them. They come from fruits, including berries, and contain half to one-third of the calories of table sugar. Sugar alcohols convert to glucose slower but are a type of carb and can raise blood sugar levels, though not as much as sugar. Because they don’t cause cavities, sugar alcohols are used mainly in mouthwash and sugar-free gum.”
Annie sipped her drink, “Fortunately, as food science continues to evolve, they’re finding several healthy natural sweeteners. Each has its pluses and minuses. They’re low in calories and fructose and taste very sweet. We know that eliminating white table sugar and eating a daily diet consisting primarily of whole, nutrient-dense foods — especially vegetables and fruits, many of which are sweet is a food habit that will give your body the nutrients necessary for optimal health.”

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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