What are the Best Sweeteners You Can Use?

9 mins read
Tags

We know that sweeteners aren’t great for a diet that is aimed at good health.

In fact, sweeteners, in general, can be genuinely detrimental to healthy goals. Why? Because sweeteners can stimulate your appetite.

In addition, some studies have shown that they can be really addictive. A 2007 study demonstrated that given a choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous shots of cocaine, the test subjects chose the saccharin.

Beyond the addictive potential, the risk of obesity, heart conditions, and diabetes is well documented, implying that sweeteners are a risky choice with which to replace sugars.

So how do we satisfy our need for something sweet (when the craving strikes) without compromising our health?

To Sugar Or Not To Sugar?

What is the reason why you would want to remove sugar from your diet? It makes meals enjoyable, doesn’t it? So why get rid of such a good thing?

When taken in moderation, Sugar can be part of a healthy diet.

It is only when large amounts of sugar are consumed in one sitting that it becomes a problem. With each gram of sugar containing four calories, limiting your intake to no more than 100 calories per day will keep you within the limit.

The problem begins when you have underlying health issues where you can’t process sugar properly, or you have an excess of sugar.

But if you really need one more reason as a motivation to go sugarless, here’s one: Sugar is one of the main reasons why people develop dental cavities and plaque buildup.

And no, this is not how you lose a sweet tooth.

In Lieu of Sugar, What Options Do We Really Have?

There will always be people who claim they know when their regular drink has real sugar in it or not. Studies show the opposite.

Blind studies with natural or artificial sweeteners in lieu of sugar showed that people could not tell the lack of actual sugar in their drinks.

So, what does this tell us?

Does it mean if we didn’t know any better, we’d still take our drinks with or without sugar as long as it was sweet?

Further studies will eventually confirm that. In the meantime, if you want to kick the sugar habit using natural sweeteners could be a solution.

The Best Sweetener Options: What are the alternatives

Fruits

Although human diets have evolved over millennia, refined sugars only became part of our diets fairly recently. The increase in stimulation of our sugar receptors from modern, sugar-saturated diets creates a heightened reward signal in the brain.

This has a real potential to surpass our self-control mechanisms and, potentially, lead to an addiction-like relationship with sugar. This is just one reason why cutting sugar out of your diet is always a struggle.

However, human beings have had sweetness in their diets in the form of fruits for millennia, too. Fresh or frozen fruit is still one of, if not the best, ways to include a sweet treat in your daily calorie intake.

The advantage of fresh fruit is that it isn’t as full of empty calories as, let’s say, a doughnut.

It also comes with an additional boost of vitamins and nutrients, making it perfect for including in drinks, meals, and snacks. 

Other Sugar Substitutes

Sugar substitutes are the understudies to the evil prima donna, sugar.

Some are ok to use, while others can be downright dangerous, as we pointed out above. However, a few are worth looking at; first on that list is naturally Stevia, the dietitian’s all-time favorite.

Stevia 

Stevia comes from the Stevia Rebaudiana “Candy Leaf” plant, well-known and used for centuries in South America for its medicinal properties.

The leaves of the Stevia plant contain a multitude of organic compounds (like stevioside and rebaudioside), which have a range of health benefits.

Both of which are much sweeter than sugar but have almost no calories, making them ideal as a source of sweetness without the harm.

The main advantage of sugar alternatives like Stevia is that it does not rapidly raise your blood sugar levels the way real sugar does. However, some studies have linked artificial sweeteners with being a precursor to diabetes.

Best Natural Sweetener Substitutes

Natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar provide a sugar-like sweetness. They also come with health benefits like an abundance of micronutrients.

However, some forms of natural sugar will come with a hefty calorie count. This means you have to keep your intake low—not more than one or two teaspoons per day seems to be the best recommendation on this.

With this said, they are all a lot like sugar in that they will elevate your blood sugar content, but most come with other benefits as well. Here’s a closer look at a few natural sweeteners and what they offer us.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and maple syrup, for example, feed our gut bacteria. They are also high in antioxidants. Now, is there any difference between the two? Is one better than the other?

Why Choose Honey?

Honey is preferable to maple syrup because it has several vitamins and minerals as well as Iron, Zinc, and Potassium. It is an excellent alternative for adults looking to drop sugar from their diets. However, honey does come with a higher calorie count.

So, you might want to watch just how many tablespoons of honey you add to your daily cup of coffee.

Honey also has medicinal value. It is known as an anti-inflammatory, and it is used to treat coughs and colds in children.

Just make sure you don’t give honey to children below two because you run the risk of causing botulism. Another adverse effect honey has is on people who have allergies. So, consult your physician before using this as a natural sweetener replacement to sugar.

And don’t believe the hype. Raw honey and processed honey have the same nutritional value.

Why Choose Maple Syrup?

Unfortunately, maple syrup isn’t always a great alternative. Many commercial brands add high fructose corn syrup to their maple syrup, defeating the point of looking at it as a sugar substitute.

However, it is still helpful in moderation. If you have the time, read the labels, try to stick with pure maple syrup.

Pure maple syrup has manganese which is responsible for healthy bones. It can also help lower your cholesterol levels and promote good brain health.

Why Choose Raw Agave Nectar?

Another alternative that is a newer addition to the grocery shelves is agave nectar. Unfortunately, ounce for ounce agave nectar has around the same calories as sugar.

Still, it does deliver a pop of flavor from a small amount—a little goes a long way with agave. But, be warned it will raise your blood sugar levels because it does contain sugar, and people with diabetes should be well appraised of this fact.

A little amount of agave nectar added to your daily diet won’t have the negative effects mentioned above, though. On the contrary, you can expect better metabolism, a wonderful dose of several essential vitamin Bs, lowered intensity of morning sickness, and protection from stroke.

And as for its taste? Well, you can say goodbye to regular sugar if you get used to this.

What About Artificial Sweeteners?

On paper, artificial sweeteners are the best replacements for regular sugar. Most artificial sweeteners have very few to zero calories present per serving.

The downside to this is that you might notice a spike in your sweet food cravings, bloating, and diarrhea. These are definitely things you’d want to avoid having after every meal where artificial sweeteners are used.

Artificial sweeteners are easy to find and use in meal preparation as they are neatly packaged and made available in stores everywhere.

Artificial sweeteners are derived from fruits or plants that have very little to no calories present. This is why artificial sweeteners are classified as non-nutritive food additives.

To date, there are only eight types of artificial sweeteners that are approved by the FDA. These are:

  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Aspartame
  • Neotame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose
  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit extract
  • Advantame

Make sure you read the label before buying your artificial sweetener.

It should also be noted that although artificial sweeteners have very little to no calories, moderation should still be observed. If natural or table sugar causes dental cavities, artificial sweeteners double the likelihood of that condition happening to your pearly whites.

The Best Sweetener Solution – No Sugar at all

Western diets are bombarded with sugar at every turn. 

Even items that you might think have no sugar in them have been sweetened in some way to make them appealing to consumers—BBQ sauce, coffee with special flavors, ketchup, iced tea, protein bars, flavored waters, and the list goes on.

But does everything we eat need to taste sweet?

One solution might be to set yourself up for a challenge in one area of your diet, say, switching plain water for sugary drinks, iced teas, flavored coffees, etc.

Then, once you have a handle on that area, try switching it up in another area, by substituting fruit for sugar, or enjoy some frozen slices of a fruity favorite rather than a pint of chocolate chip ice cream.

Your main obstacle here is your willpower to stay the course.

Can’t see yourself doing that? Fret not. We have a solution.

Why You Should Try Molassity

Molassity’s pomegranate molasses is a favorite Californian condiment and a smart choice for jazzing up your tastebuds without guilt or regret. Molassity is made from a single ingredient (Californian pomegranates) and includes up to sixteen pomegranates per skinny bottle.

Just a few drops added to your salad, meal, or when you’re sneaking a low-sugar or no-sugar dessert can add a delightful boost of sweet flavor. It also adds a ton of antioxidants to your daily intake.

Not sure how? Here’s a quick look at a few recipes to jazz, erm, sweeten your next dish!

  • Let pears be pears by skipping the sugar in this dish!
  • Love your veggie sides? Ensure you get only nature’s goodness in every bite by substituting with pomegranate molasses. Check out the recipe here.

Without question, when looking for fruit and its alternative to include in your diet to supplement sugar, Molassity is an answer in a bottle that keeps on giving.

FAQ

How Do I Incorporate More Fruit-Based Sweetness Into My Diet? 

Start by adding fruit to healthy meals you already enjoy.

Consider adding berries or a banana to a bowl full of warm oatmeal at breakfast time. You could also mix a fruit blend or a favorite fruit into a smoothie. Or better yet, add some diced fruit to a bowl of plain Greek yogurt.

Is Eating More Fruit The Solution?

Eating more fruit is sound advice, but don’t take it too literally!

You don’t have to try to find a way to add apricots to your morning coffee. Some people go so overboard with this idea that it becomes impractical or downright absurd.

Instead, here’s some sound advice:

Consider shifting your daily sugar intake from refined sugars or sweeteners to other kinds of flavors. These could include things like cocoa powder, cinnamon, almond, or vanilla extract in drinks and snacks.

These flavors can also help hit the right note with your tastebuds without exposing you to the dangers of sugar-heavy or saccharin-scary sweeteners.

Do Sugar Cravings Fade Over Time?

You should find that by replacing sweeteners with fruits, be they fresh or frozen, will be well worth the sacrifice. Eventually your sweet tooth is going to take its foot off the gas a little and starts to seek out the more natural solutions like apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes.

What’s The Verdict?

A zero-sugar daily diet is not a realistic goal to set up for yourself because, yes, your body does need sugar in some form or another. Whether you choose to go the natural or artificial route is entirely up to you.

For best results, consult a dietitian. These professionals can help you determine which one will work best for you based on your height, weight, and medical history.

What we can do in the meanwhile is manage the kinds of sugars we put in our body, ensuring they come with added benefits like a host of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

So, if you have to have sugar, pick a source that works to your advantage. And always read your labels—focus on sweeteners that are carefully vetted and bring tangible benefits to your diet and your health.

Suggested Articles

Leave a Reply