Your Questions Answered: What do you think about Agave and Stevia? - Drew Ramsey MD

Your Questions Answered: What do you think about Agave and Stevia? Jane R. asks:
I’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and am trying to cut out sugar. What your thoughts are on “natural” sweetener alternatives to sugar like Agave and Stevia?

Dr. Ramsey answers:
Reducing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates is a GREAT step towards health and happiness. Often people look to replace these with other sweeteners like Agave syrup. Unlike sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HRCS), which are an equal or near equal split of glucose and fructose, the main sugar in agave is fructose (depending on the brand up to 90%) fructose. I avoid fructose other than in fresh fruit or honey mainly because fructose can’t be used by the brain, and evidence indicates it increases the storage of dangerous visceral fat. Fructose is primarily absorbed by the liver, unlike glucose (the major sugar in your blood), which can be absorbed by every cell in the body. In the liver, fructose is turned into triglyceride fats, high levels of which are linked to heart disease. Fructose is also associated with an increase fatty liver disease, an abnormal increase of fat in the liver, which is on the rise.

Often agave syrup is marketed as “safe” for diabetic patients. While fructose does not raise blood sugar (because it is not glucose, it is low on the glycemic index), studies show it can damage the body in the same way as high blood sugar levels do via a process called glycation, which leads to inflammation. Reducing inflammation is one of the key steps to having a healthier, happier brain.

I take issue with Stevia because it helps acclimate your palate to sweet stuff. I’ve grown it in my garden and sometimes add a little to lemonade or iced tea, but I don’t endorse anything that comes from a packet. Some argue it is healthy because it is a plant, but sugar cane is a plant and high-fructose corn syrup comes from corn. The molecules that make Stevia sweet are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Honey and maple syrup are my favorite natural sweeteners. Part of my reasoning is that these sources of sweetness also come with minerals and phytonutrients, so they aren’t “empty” calories. If you can get sugar out of your diet, or at least minimize it, then other natural sugars like milk sugar (lactose) will start to taste sweeter. At least that is my experience.

Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen


From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.


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The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.


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Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.


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