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Life is Sweet with Hale & Hearty

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It’s not a bad thing to enjoy the taste of the sweeter things in life! It seems that as soon as we mention the word ‘sweet’ we think of poor diet choices such as ice cream, sugary sweets and milk chocolate.

LMD Fitness has been selected to do a product review for Hale & Hearty of its Agave syrups. As well as having a catchy, cool name, this company can offer a wide range of foods to suit those with special dietary needs be it wheat, dairy, gluten, or low GI diets!

I would argue that there is a lighter side to sweet food and there are healthy (or healthier) choices out there for us. This review also gives me the chance to explore those sweet options which can provide us with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and therapeutic benefits.

**I would say at the outset however that these can be quite calorific options – I therefore like to use them to supplement my training regime (i.e. when I’m in need of a dose of quick energy!).**

Hale & Hearty’s Agave Nectar Syrup
Hale & Hearty describe their Agave Syrups as a “healthier alternative to sugar, golden syrup, honey and artificial sweeteners.” It is a bold claim, so lets take a closer look…

Hale & Hearty’s Original Agave Syrup benefits from a lower glycacemic index (of 19-24) and 25% less calories than sugar. It could therefore be useful for people who are diabetic, have insulin resistance or are simply watching their carbohydrate or sugar intake.

H&H offer their Agave Syrup in 3 flavours – original, honey and maple. I have tried original and maple and can say that both are great. I love the taste of maple syrup and this is distinctly similar!

The low GI of this product helps release carbohydrates slowly and therefore avoids the dizzy rush of sugar highs which come from other processed sugary snacks. Agave’s sweetness comes mainly from a complex form of fructose called inulin and this helps to give it the low glycemic profile unlike fructose and other sweet compounds.
Other impressive benefits include the fact that it is organic, natural, vegetarian, vegan, kosher and gluten free!

As for the ingredients label – it’s clean stuff: Organic Agave and Organic Maple Flavour
What I like most about it is its ease of use and flexibility. So far, I have enjoyed it in my coffee, tea, yoghurt, porridge and even savoury meals! The H&H packaging is easy and practical to use too – nobody likes the hassle of sticky lids on jars!

Having sampled the product, I can understand why it was a recent winner of Great Gold Taste.
Hale & Hearty was born out of one family’s necessity to deal with food allergies and special dietary requirements. With over 11 Great Taste Awards and several Free-From Food Awards under its belt in under 2 years, this company looks destined for food greatness! They have clearly shown us that ‘Free-From’ foods can taste great, if not better, than regular food.

**Bonus Review – H&H’s 5 grain pancake mix is something worth trying. With a high flax content, it can help build the ideal post-workout snack, packing in a whole range of Omegas! The mix makes pancakes that are perfect in consistency and when paired with Hale & Hearty’s Agave Syrup, well you’ve got a real tasty treat on your plate!

Blackstrap molasses
I wont go into this option too much here as I have written a more dedicated article about molasses before. There’s no doubting it though – this is one of my preferred options when I crave some sweetness. It can be bought cheaply in most health stores, ready to use. Essentially it is unrefined sugar cane. It retains a whole host of vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Chromium, and other trace minerals. A tea spoon of the stuff regularly features in my diet – whether it’s in my porridge or part of a home-made stew!

Stevia
Stevia is a herbaceous family of plant with hundreds of species. Pure Via have brought stevia ready to market in the UK. They use Reb A, a high purity extract of the Stevia plant which they claim delivers sweetness without all of the calories of sugar. In fact it is 100s of times sweeter than sugar!

With traditional aspartame sweeteners receiving negative press and being linked to cancer, stevia is offering a healthy alternative. It isn’t possible to consider stevia fully in this short time but studies have shown that it may cause insulin spikes but despite this it is thought that it may actually be an insulin sensitizer. In a similar way to tumeric, we don’t consume stevia to fuel our bodies but rather for the full flavour and the health benefits.

Manuka Honey
Now widely sold in health shops and supermarkets, Manuka Honey has become the go-to source when people suffer from a cold – it isn’t the cheapest cold medicine though. It actually comes from bees feeding on manuka, widely grown in New Zealand. It tastes quite floral and is marketed on the basis of its anti-bacterial properties and vitamin content.

It is less widely known that these factors vary a lot depending on the origin and processing of the honey. Studies suggest that only around 10% of manuka honey has this anti-bacterial quality! Not a great statistic for the food stores relying on people to cure their colds with manuka. Even if its medicinal properties may not be as strong as the label suggests, it does have a high vitamin content, is natural and tastes good.

So there you have it – some less guilty options which can bring you health benefits! I would still be selective and modest in using these ingredients but it is not always possible to satisfy your ‘sweet tooth’ with fresh fruit, in which case, I may turn to these ‘sweeteners’.