How Healthy Is Your Natural Sugar Substitute?

A natural sugar substitute is a sweetener or food additive that can replace sugar in cooking, baking or to sweeten your favorite drinks. It may be necessary to switch to a natural sugar substitute if health concerns are involved, or if you are looking to limit the intake of chemicals and toxins into your body. Beware of the word “natural”, however. Many of the sugar sweeteners that claim to be natural are nothing more than a substance which has been derived from something natural and then highly processed, mixed with chemicals, and served to you as a more expensive alternative to sugar.

The Healthiest Natural Sugar Substitutes

The healthiest way to go when looking for a natural sugar substitute is to find something organic, preferably derived from herbs or other naturally occurring substances–not processed or mixed with chemicals such as chlorine. Ingestion of chemicals and other toxic substances is almost never healthy, and it’s important to be aware of the process by which a sugar substitute is made before deciding. The best natural sugar substitute for you will also depend on any health concerns that you may have, plus the importance of caloric intake vs. use. Many natural sugar substitutes are not suitable for cooking, and others, though completely organic, actually have more calories per serving.

Popular Sugar Substitutes

Most of the popular sugar substitutes sold in grocery stores have met with controversy at one time or another. Due to the fact that brands like Splenda, Equal and Sweet’N Low use unnatural processes to create their products, any health benefits or lack of them have been questioned extensively. One of the most popularly controversial sugar substitutes is aspartame, marketed under the brand name of NutraSweet. Studies show that several of the products which breakdown from aspartame may be toxic, but no proof has been produced. Sucralose, known as Splenda, contains the ingredient chlorine, a toxic chemical. It’s claimed that the way sucralose is manufactured and its effects on the body have not been determined to be detrimental. However, if you want to avoid ingesting chemicals, there are several real natural sugar substitute options. 

Organic Sugar Substitutes

There are several types of natural sugar substitutes that are more than just marketed as ‘natural.’ These herbs and sugar extracts are not combined with toxins or processed in any way. Stevia is one of the most popular sweeteners, which is derived from a plant. Its leaves are extremely sweet and this product can be used in cooking and coffee just like sugar. Stevia is nearly devoid of calories, doesn’t effect blood sugar levels in diabetics, and may even promote better health in certain areas. Xylitol and Erythritol are sugar alcohols derived from fruits and fermented foods. Each of these is a low- or no-calorie sweetener and is now becoming more readily available. If calories aren’t your top concern, you may even be interested in certain types of honey, like red clover or orange blossom, or agave nectar. These natural sugar substitutes are higher in calories, but are very sweet and much healthier than non-organic sugar substitutes, or even regular table sugar.


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