The five best Ayurvedic sweeteners.

06/11/2021


Everyone craves something sweet, even those who claim they don't. This includes all small beings such as yeast, bacteria, and parasites, and that's why we can get sick if we indulge too much in sweets. If you're more conscious about what you eat, you're likely confused about what to consume and what to avoid regarding sweets. There's a lot of conflicting information on this topic. Here, I share tips on how to use sweeteners that balance your body according to Ayurvedic science.


Natural sugars: This is the best way to consume sweet foods because, in addition to naturally occurring sugars, they contain prana, or life essence, and medicinal properties. In this category, we find foods that haven't undergone any processing before cooking or cold preparation. Examples include beetroot (excellent for the liver), fruit (an excellent source of fiber), dates (an excellent source of iron and ojas, or energy container), and prunes (good for relieving occasional constipation).


Unprocessed cane sugar: In Ayurvedic medicine, different artisanal types of sugar, like the Indian jaggery, are used to alleviate various symptoms and diseases. Our Mesoamerican version would be piloncillo, or as it's known in South America, panela. This sugar contains all the medicinal elements of molasses with a high iron content. This sweetener provides energy to the weak. If you can't substitute piloncillo in your kitchen, the closest alternative is brown sugar.


Agave nectar: Native ancestors of the American Continent dialogued with agave as they would with a person. Due to its special presence, agave was considered another family member. In the colder Northern areas, they use maple syrup, but for those living in places like Mexico, it's more appropriate to use agave nectar. For diabetics, this nectar is better because it has a low glycemic index. It cools the body, making it better for Pitta constitutions.


Bee honey: Fresh bee honey is good for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but Pitta should avoid excess. Consuming bee honey aids in weight loss and is excellent for Kaphas, as it has a tissue-purifying action. Add it to your hot or cold beverages. Just ensure you don't heat it, like in baking or cooking at high temperatures, as this turns it into a toxic substance. Also, buy from artisans who care for and respect their bees. Industrialized honey is not medicinal.


Fruit juice concentrate: In some recipes, you can substitute sugar with fruit juice concentrate available in the frozen section of supermarkets. This is helpful when baking or preparing a healthy dessert, and you want to retain a light color without piloncillo or brown sugar changing it.


In Ayurveda, no natural substance is considered "bad." The harm only comes in the way it's consumed. Concerning sweetness, harm in modern society comes in two forms: 1. Excessively processed sweet foods until they become toxic, and 2. The addiction and abuse of sweets in any form. Resulting diseases include anxiety, insomnia, obesity, depression, and diabetes. Benefits of consuming sweets consciously include tranquility, deep sleep, joy, energy, adequate weight, and balanced digestion.


Remember, sweet is not bad. Sweetness is the taste connected to love. The only thing to avoid is consuming sweets in a toxic form, like refined sugar or corn syrup; and not overindulging in high amounts. Consuming sweets unconsciously doesn't connect us to love but rather to emotional attachment.


The best sweeteners for each dosha:


For Vata: soft or cooked fruit, piloncillo, and bee honey.


For Pitta: raw fruit, agave nectar, and piloncillo.


For Kapha: dried fruit and bee honey (in moderation).


May you have sweet experiences!


By Iris Campion.

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