For our final article within this series, I want to highlight the sweetener which is my personal favorite: fruit! I am not talking about the “fruit extract” or “fruit juice concentrate” you may see listed as ingredients in packaged foods. These are just other names for processed sugar. I am referring to whole, nutrient-dense fruit.
Last year, I began my journey of using fruit as a primary sweetener. Upon teaching my first RESTART class, I decided to participate in the food challenge with the group. At that time, I daily used stevia--with occasional honey, maple syrup, or xylitol. When I switched to only using fruit, along with some other modifications new to me on the challenge, I experienced a balanced blood sugar and a new level of freedom from food cravings. Why was this?
First of all, I learned moderdation. With RESTART, only one fruit/day is allowed--and only certain fruits. Contentment beat the cravings when I realized I didn’t really need my food to taste so sweet. As my palette underwent a little detox, fruit tasted sweeter than ever before! When we eat concentrated sweeteners, we can slowly grow desensitized to sweet taste--needing more and more sweetener to satisfy.
Secondly, as we’ve accurately been told, fruit has a powerhouse of health benefits. When I enjoyed them in moderation on the RESTART protocol, the nutrients supported my blood sugar levels rather than spiking them. Here are some of the nutrients packed within the following fruit:
Bananas-vitamin B6 (support blood sugar handling), manganese, vitamin C, potassium (act as an electrolyte and promote circulatory health), biotin, copper, magnesium
Blueberries: antioxidants (support brain health and manage inflammation), vitamin K and vitamin E, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, and copper
Apples: antioxidants, pectin (promote natural detoxification), vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and manganese
There are endless recipe options with these three fruits alone. I have enjoyed cobblers, crisps, smoothies, brownies, cakes, and more with no sweetener other than one of these fruit. Now that my blood sugar has stabilized, I now use other nutrient- dense sweeteners on occasion--particularly honey, the medicinal gold mind. However, the benefits of fruit in moderation keep me vibrant and satisfied. (Notably, these fruits are eaten in combination with the right fats, which are the most efficient fuel for sustainable energy and satiation.)
The only negative side to eating fruit is when it is not local, and when it is sprayed with chemicals (pesticides, fungicides, etc). Although bananas are obviously not locally grown, they are a crop that is typically sprayed very little. High in the tree, this fruit is safe from rodents, animals, and some bugs. Additionally, the thick peal protects them from any chemical exposure. Apples and blueberries are often sprayed, however, there are many local sources which offer these fruits chemical- free! These are the true gems for our health. (This week I will travel to Childs Blueberry Farm in Hinsdale, NY to pick their chemical-free fruit!)
In conclusion, we have covered a variety of sweeteners which boast delightful flavors and positive health benefits for our bodies. We have also discussed the sweeteners which are a burden and a toxin to our bodies. Hopefully, you will now navigate your choice of sweeteners with greater efficiency and wisdom! Still, sometimes it takes discipline and relearning to stick to something new. As you venture forward, trying different options, I encourage you to base your choices off of nutritional need rather than simply taste. May this be the rule that governs any food we eat. Food is meant to nourish us, and our taste buds should follow our wise decisions rather than lead. May your palate learn to love that which produces thriving health!