Good Sugar Substitutes

Most people realize they eat too much sugar and that sugar simply isn’t good for you. Are there sugar substitutes that are better for you? Should you give up sugar entirely. It’s true that Americans eat far too much sugar. One estimate is that the average person in America eats 17 tablespoons of sugar every day. That totals to about 57 pounds a year. That’s all the added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugar in fruits and vegetables, we have in our diet. Added sugar is one of the biggest culprits in food today. However, there’s a question whether using a sugar substitute is better and if so, which one is best.

Added sugar has no nutritional benefits, except to provide empty calories.

The same may be true of sugar substitutes, but Stevia is one of those rare exceptions. What is stevia? It’s made from leaves of the South American Stevia rebaudiana bush. Even though it’s 200 times sweeter than sugar, it doesn’t have any calories. Some stevia is in droplet form and some in powder form. A study in 2017 found that stevia may have properties that could help prevent metabolic syndrome and help lower blood pressure. It does interact with some medications and if you already have low blood pressure, may not be the right option.

Monk fruit is also a sweet substitute.

Monk fruit has been used for sweetening for hundreds of years. Just like Stevia, it’s sweeter than sugar, but by about 150 to 200 times. It has no calories and doesn’t affect your blood sugar level. You can get it in powder, liquid or granules. It’s not only safe for the general public, it’s safe for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Monkfruit has antioxidants called mogrosides and may have anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s expensive and often combined with dextrose, changing the pros and cons. Some people note it has an aftertaste that you either hate or love.

Fresh fruit, including dates are healthy sweeteners.

Whether you’re substituting applesauce for some of the sugar in baked goods or using date paste you made or bought, you’ll be getting the most benefits from sugar. If you want a sweet treat, try chopping frozen black cherries and adding it to Greek yogurt, walnuts and a little wheat germ that’s optional. You’ll get all the health benefits of the fresh fruit, but also the calories. However, they’re nothing empty about them. If you chose date sugar, remember, it’s not a good option for diabetics due to its high GI rating. It also costs quite a bit and doesn’t melt easily, and may be more limited in its use. It’s high in fiber, minerals and B vitamins.

  • Date paste can be made at home and is less processed. Just put whole pitted dates in your blender and turn it on. In seconds, you’ll have date paste.
  • If you’ve never heard of a yacon plant, it looks like a sweet potato and originally from the Andes. It’s processed like maple syrup, but comes from the plants leaves and then filtered and evaporated. It lowers blood sugar, while also has a laxative effect.
  • While molasses is made from boiling sugar cane and a by-product of making cane sugar, it still has a high sugar count and 58 calories per tablespoon. It contains a good amount of manganese, magnesium, copper, B-6, potassium, calcium, iron, and selenium.
  • There are several sugar alcohols that are used as substitutes. The two most popular are erythritol and xylitol. Erythritol is good for diabetics and a powerful antioxidant. Xylitol has a low GI, prevents tooth decay, lows risk of infection and may be good for the gut, but can cause gas and diarrhea.

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