What are refined flours?
A refined flour has been stripped of its hull, bran, and germ. The fiber and most of the vitamins and minerals have been removed to produce a longer-lasting and shelf-stable product. Even if it is enriched — (it is required by the FDA for wheat refined flours to be supplemented with folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine) — you are still not getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals back.
Why avoid refined flours?
Because the majority of the fiber has been stripped, these flours tend to elevate blood glucose levels and produce reactions in the body similar to consuming sugar. This includes wheat flour, white flour, rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, potato starch, and rice starch. (Note- interestingly, in some studies, whole wheat flour has been recognized to elevate blood sugar levels as much as sugar.)
Which sweeteners don’t spike insulin levels?
alcohol sugars, stevia extract (liquid and powder forms) and whole leaf stevia, luo han guo (aka: monk fruit), yacon syrup, and yacon powder. (Sweeteners like agave nectar and brown rice syrup are touted as not spiking blood sugar as well; however, there have been reports for a select few where this is not the case.)
What sweeteners are considered wholesome and still have their nutrient content intact?
raw honey, maple syrup, dates, date sugar, whole leaf stevia, molasses, rapadura, agave nectar (only true for some brands), yacon syrup, yacon powder, coconut/palm sugar, fruit juice concentrate.
Please note: this does NOT mean that you can consume them like you would fruits and vegetables. The amount of nutrients present is minimal. However, the presence of them feeds the body much needed components to help digest the sugars.
What are the artificial sweeteners?
Acesulfame potassium (Sunnet, Sweet One), Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Neotame, Saccharin (Sugar Twin, Sweet n Low), Sucralose (Splenda)
If you only cut out one type of sweetener in your diet, I hope you make it these. There are numerous studies demonstrating not only how these sweeteners add to the craving of sugar, but also the harmful effect of artificial sweeteners to our health on micro and macro levels.
What is the difference between the grades of maple syrup?
It used to be that maple syrup was graded as grade B and grade A. The difference being what time of the season they were produced and their coloring. Grade B maple syrup was produced later in the season, and had a darker color, a more robust flavor over grade A. Today (as of 2015) the general rule of thumb is, is that the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.