"It's got fruit in it -- how bad could it be for me?" That's what many of us think when we dribble warm strawberry jam over our ice cream, or slather grape jelly onto a sandwich. Yet products that are low in real fruit and high in added sugar or corn syrup can have a disastrous effect on your blood sugar and your waistline. Low-sugar jams and jellies are one solution, but consider other options to boost the health quotient of your sweet treats even higher.
To get the sweetness of fruit without added sugar and preservatives, use fresh, canned or thawed frozen fruits with little or no sugar added. Canned fruits are healthiest when they come in their own juices, notes MayoClinic.com. Otherwise, lightly rinse chopped canned fruit that comes packed in syrup. When using frozen fruit, opt for products with no extra sweeteners. Serve chopped fruit uncooked or lightly heated over waffles and pancakes. To sweeten a peanut butter sandwich without commercial jelly, add banana or apple slices.
Manufacturers add sugar and high-fructose syrups to jams and jelly products not just to sweeten them, but as preservatives. Making your own fruit purees enables you to eliminate or vastly cut down on sweeteners. Cook the fruits from your favorite jams, such as strawberry, peach, blueberries and apricots, in a saucepan at medium heat with water or low-sugar fruit juice. Use less liquid if you want a spreadable puree, more if you'd like something to spoon over waffles, pancakes and frozen yogurt. Use fresh mint, lemon balm, cinnamon or nutmeg to enhance flavors without adding sugar. If you do add sugar, reduce the amount you would normally use by at least one-third. If time is a problem, try low-sugar applesauce or similar fruit puree products.
Nut and Seed Butters
Instead of smearing jelly and jam on your toast or English muffin, consider substituting peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter or a similar nut or seed savory spread. The butters are high in protein, while the roasting process used in making them brings out the natural sweetness in nuts and seeds. In addition, foods like peanut butter help people who need to watch their blood sugar, according to the nonprofit website Helpguide.org. The healthy fats in the spreads slow the digestive process, which keeps blood sugar at an even keel.
Molasses and honey are similar to sugary jams and jellies in terms of calories and the impact on your blood sugar. But if you use them sparingly, they boast health benefits. Molasses, for example, has more iron per typical serving than other vegetarian sources such as spinach or lentils. In addition, a 2009 report published in "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" found that the antioxidant benefit of substituting natural sweeteners such as molasses, honey and maple syrup for the amount of sugar typically consumed in one day was equivalent to a daily serving of berries or nuts.
- MayoClinic.com: Added Sugar -- Don't Get Sabotaged by Sweeteners
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Total Antioxidant Content of Alternatives to Refined Sugar.
- Extension InfoNet: How to Modify Recipes to Reduce Sugar
- California State University: Healthy Cooking and Baking Substitutions:
- Helpguide.org: Diabetes Diet and Food Tips
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency
This article was written by the CareerTrend team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about CareerTrend, contact us [here](http://careertrend.com/about-us).