Man has always been hardwired to love a sweet taste. Some believe it was because most sweet foods are not toxic, and that was the clue to early man it was edible. However, sugar has its negative effects on the body, so many people look for a healthy sugar replacement. What’s the healthiest route to take? Give up sugar entirely. Many of the alternatives on the market come with their own set of negatives, like the explosive diarrhea and gas that sugar alcohols can create. You also have to remember that just because it’s natural, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Stevia is a natural sweetener and may have a few extra health benefits.
The leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant provide the sweetness for Stevia. It was once used by the indigenous people of South Africa as medicine. A little stevia goes a long way, since it’s hundreds of times sweeter than regular table sugar, but it provides zero calories. It’s not always the first choice for taste. Some people love it and others hate it, but it is beneficial for diabetics. It can help maintain a stable glucose level in the blood. It also has properties that help lower blood pressure if it’s high. Sound too good to be true? It does have drawbacks. It can inhibit the growth of the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, since it’s a sugar alcohol called erythritol providing the sweetness.
Go au naturale with fruit.
Simply using fruit as your sweetener, the whole fruit and not just the juice, can allow you to get the sweetness you want, but keep it healthier. For instance, applesauce can be used in baking to replace not only some sugar but also some oils. Ripe bananas, figs and dates are also used for sweetness. Do you want a sweet treat that doesn’t have any added sugar? Wash and chop fruit to bite size pieces and freeze it, then blend it to create a refreshing sorbet style frozen dessert.
Monk fruit is becoming more popular as a sweetener.
Monk fruit comes from Southeast Asia and was used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Like Stevia, it contains no calories but is 100 to 250 times sweeter than table sugar. The flesh of the fruit is used and while it contains fructose and glucose, it’s one of the antioxidants that make it sweet, mogrosides V. When it’s processed, it separates the mogrosides from the glucose and fructose. It’s also said to help support the digestive tract, glands, immune system and respiratory tract. What’s the downside? It’s often combined with other ingredients that aren’t as healthy or kind to your system, like sugar alcohols and corn syrup.
- Chicory root is often used for coffee, but it also can substitute for sugar. It has a low glycemic index, while also containing many vitamins and minerals. It even contains fiber. Unfortunately, it is often mixed with other sweeteners and isn’t calorie free.
- Yacon comes from a tuber that looks like a potato and tastes like a pear. It’s often called the diet potato. It is the high amount of fructooligosaccharides. It may help prevent constipation and aid in weight loss. Tea from the leaves of the Yacon plant has anti-diabetic effects.
- While xylitol is a sugar alcohol and can cause digestive issues, it also can be used to help improve bone density. Swishing it around in the mouth, then spitting it out daily is said to cut the risk of cavities.
- Tagatose comes from lactose, milk sugar, but won’t negatively affect those who are lactose intolerant due to processing. It is shown to be a good substitute for sugar and can help people with diabetes lower blood sugar levels.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness