In collaboration with our sweet friends at Maxine’s Heavenly, this week we’re breaking down sugar: how it affects your body, all the different kinds, and why choosing natural sugars is important.
In Trash Panda, we flag over 61 different names for sugar as “Questionable” so you can be aware of any sugars in the foods you consume. However, there is a big difference between the many kinds of sweeteners out there, and they are certainly not all created equal.
Maxine’s Heavenly offers delicious cookies with high-quality ingredients that are sweetened by nature. In fact, they care so much about choosing the right sweeteners that they wrote a book, The Sweet Life (download it for free)! We knew that Maxine’s Heavenly would be perfect for this week’s blog post, so keep reading to get your questions answered & find your new favorite (Trash Panda approved) cookie!
Want to try them? Use code TRASHPANDA at maxinesheavenly.com for 25% off your first order.
How does sugar affect the body?
When we consume any type of sugar, it is ultimately broken down as either glucose or fructose in our bodies. Glucose can either be stored for later or used immediately for energy with the help of insulin. Fructose, however, doesn’t trigger insulin release like glucose does. As a result, hunger hormones aren’t properly regulated, which can lead to over-eating.
Since fructose can’t be stored, our bodies automatically break it down and turn it into fat. This isn’t to say that fructose is a wholly bad thing– it’s naturally occuring! But it’s important to be aware of how these sugars are processed in our bodies, so we can make better decisions about the types of sweeteners we choose.
The type of sugar you consume is not the only factor to consider. It’s also important what you consume that sugar with. Sugar is best eaten along with plenty of other nutrients, especially fiber. It’s why most fruits are high in fiber- to slow your body down and regulate the way sugar is used!
However, many high sugar foods (like typical processed cookies) are devoid of fiber and contain industrial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. Consuming sugar in this way can create a spike in blood sugar that can lead to dysregulated blood sugar and result in chronic inflammation in our bodies over time.
Breaking down the different kinds of sugar
Refined v. Unrefined Sugars
Oftentimes, sugar is pictured as white table sugar, which is refined. Though this table sugar does come from sugarcane or sugar beets, the process from the original plant to what we’re familiar with is very complex. In this refining process, all of the nutritional value of the original plant is lost.
While refined sugars are treated with industrial machines and chemicals, unrefined sugars are as nature intended: with their vitamins, minerals, and fiber intact. Unrefined sugars include honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.
What about zero-calorie sweeteners?
Though these sweeteners are, in fact, zero calories and they may not spike your blood sugar, they are not natural, contain no nutrients, and your body isn’t set up to process them. Some examples include stevia and sugar alcohols; both of which are mixed with other chemicals and are heavily refined. Sugar alcohols specifically are digested differently in the body and can cause gastric distress.
Our natural sweetener picks:
So what are natural sweeteners? Two great options are coconut sugar and dates. Coconut sugar is collected from the same tree as coconuts and its production is sustainable too, as the trees are maintained (rather than cut down). Dates are similarly sustainable and collected from the date palm tree. These forms of sugar are “about as close to the original plant as you can get” - and have their natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber intact. Both dates and coconut sugar are unrefined, easier on your body, and delicious!
Why Maxine’s Heavenly?
With Maxine’s Heavenly, there’s no reason to wait for a special occasion to celebrate your sweet tooth. They’ve made a cookie you can feel good about eating every day!
Maxine’s Heavenly cookies are sweetened by nature and made with ingredients like whole grain oats. They have super soft-baked cookies in flavors like Chocolate Chocolate Chunk and Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin, and have just released brand new crispy cookie flavors Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Speculoos Crunch. So whether you are a soft cookie person or a crispy cookie person, you can find something you’ll like.