There’s an abundant selection of sweeteners on the market today, but some are not as healthy as are being advertised, and others are plain poison. As a rule, artificial sweeteners should be avoided entirely. So when we’re on the lookout for natural sweeteners to replace the common white refined options, here are some good options:
Natural Sweeteners Nº1
- Completely calorie-free and natural, derived from the stevia plant. (You’ll see it branded as Truvia or SweetLeaf in stores.)
- Much sweeter than sugar, so you need a lot less for the same effect.
- Much healthier than other low-cal chemical sweeteners.
- Great in cocktails and cold beverages.
- Especially tasty in small amounts sprinkled over dark berries.
- Does not taste like sugar, will not complement coffees and teas too well.
- Some people complain of a bad after taste.
- Not great for baking, plan for a 1:8 stevia/sugar ratio.
- Sometimes chemically processed and mixed with sugar alcohol, such as with Truvia. The sugar alcohol can cause digestive issues in sensitive people or when ingested in large amounts. The SweatLeaf brand is a better choice as it contains purely stevia and inulin which is a prebiotic fibre.
Natural Sweeteners Nº2
- Longer energy release than refined sugar (a good option for diabetics)
- Does not cause blood sugar to spike.
- Flavour goes well in iced teas or lemonades.
- It’s higher in calories than normal sugar.
- Not ideal for baking.
- In excess can lead to a greater production of fat and bad cholesterol.
Natural Sweeteners Nº3
- Nutritionist Nº1 choice due to low glycemic index. (A low-GI food will release glucose more slowly and steadily, which leads to more suitable postprandial (after meal) blood glucose readings.)
- Tastes most like regular sugar, with a slight hint of caramel (yum!), and can be substituted 1:1 with normal sugar.
It’s rather pricey.
Natural Sweeteners Nº4
- It has a high nutritional value, intensely rich in potassium, iron and calcium.
- Does not lose nutritional content during processing.
- Unbeatable taste in smoothies, yogurts and chiles.
- Not recommended for most baking (great for gingerbread though).
- High in calories, as much as refined sugar.
Natural Sweeteners Nº5
Honey (Low processed or raw, and unheated)
- Rich in vitamins such as B2, B6, and minerals including iron and manganese.
- Antiseptic properties, boosts the immune system (medicinal properties)
- It’s probiotic, which pleases the gut
- Contains antioxidants, especially the darker honeys
- Good for baking
- The good stuff is expensive
- Has a high glycemic index, higher than agave’s, lower than refined sugar.
- High in calories, on par with agave.
Sources: Well & Good
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