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When planning a healthy diet, refined sugar is the number one item to consider removing. Don't worry, your occasional sweet tooth can still be satisfied using alternative, natural sweeteners. It is widely known that sugar is not good for our health, but do you know just how harmful it really is, and how much sugar you may be consuming, perhaps inadvertently?

Refined sugar is pure sugar that undergoes processing to remove impurities. Refined sugar can be in granulated, powdered, or liquid form. Refined sugars are often used as sweeteners in coffee or baked goods at home, and are found in the majority of grocery store processed and packaged food items.

Here is what you need to know about refined sugar:

Refined sugar has no nutritional value. Sugar provides zero vitamins, minerals, or health benefits.

Many leading health experts classify sugar as a poison. Refined sugar has been directly linked to conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, dementia, obesity, hypertension, depression, headaches, fatigue, acne, skin irritations, and attention deficient disorders.

Refined sugar has been shown to be more addicting than cocaine. If you consume sugar, it is likely that you will experience sugar cravings, and consume more sugary foods than you would non-sugary foods. Food companies know the addictive qualities of sugar and use it to their advantage. If you limit your sugar consumption, cravings become a thing of the past.

Nationally, increased sugar consumption correlates with increased rates of chronic disease. As fat consumption decreased due to fear of saturated fats and cholesterol, sugar consumption increased drastically. We are now consuming over 152 pounds of sugar each year, compared to 50 pounds fifty years ago, and 4 pounds 100 years ago! During the same time period, prevalence of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and heart disease increased at an alarming rate.

Refined sugar is found in 80% of grocery store food items. If a food is processed or packaged, it most likely contains refined sugar. Even seemly healthy options have not been spared! Refined sugar can be found in ketchup and sauces, yogurt, bread, vitamin and energy drinks, nutrition bars, gluten-free products, salad dressings, crackers, soda, and breakfast cereals.  Refined sugar hides behind dozens of names, including brown rice syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, sorbitol, cane sugar, and sorghum syrup.

If you are consuming too much sugar, it is not your fault! Sugar laden food products have literally been formulated to taste delicious and make you want more. Refined sugar hijacks your brain, stimulates its pleasure center, and tells you to eat more. Take back control of your health by eliminating refined sugar.

Dessert is not off the menu! It is indeed possible to enjoy chocolate treats, warm fruit crisps, and other comforting and delicious dessert items. We have developed recipes that allow for this, without the use of refined sugar and the health consequences that come with it. We use natural sweeteners such as fruit, raw honey and pure maple syrup in moderation to create our amazing recipes.