With added sugar being one of the top ingredients to avoid in our daily diet, it has become somewhat of an essential need for us to find a sugar substitute in order to please our taste buds, because, we all know that taste comes first!
However, as many studies have shown, an excessive sugar intake has been linked to heart diseases, weight gain & obesity and so we must ask: how safe are sugar substitutes, and what are our other options?
One of the main advantages of using artificial sweeteners is the fact that they add no calories as compared to actual sugar, hence are often the go to when trying to control our diet. They are also considered as a great option for diabetics since artificial sweeteners don't increase blood sugar levels.
The most common sweeteners often used include: aspartame, acesulfame, sachharin, sucralose, saccharin and neotame. Scientific studies have shown that the most dangerous artificial sweetener out of all is aspartame, which has been found to cause cancer.
While the goal of artificial sweeteners is to reduce blood sugar levels, some studies have shown that they negatively affect insulin levels and might also lead to excessive weight gain.
Opting for natural sweeteners is the go to option when trying to avoid artificial sweeteners, the most common being honey and agave nectar. While they may not always help you save on calories, they definitely win on the quality front so at the least, you ensure you’re indulging with some benefits…
Honey is probably our favorite sugar alternative. Despite being high in fructose, it is completely natural when consumed raw and you can find great locally produced honey almost anywhere around town! Moreover, honey comes along with many other benefits such as having anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Portion control is essential to make sure the sugar and calorie intake doesn’t go beyond the recommended levels.
Another option is Stevia, which is a natural sweetener currently taking the spotlight. Stevia is a no-calorie sweetener that is obtained from a plant known as stevia rebaudiana. Studies have shown that stevia helps in lowering blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure. There are no proven side effects of consuming stevia so far.
While agave nectar is a natural source of sugar (extracted from the cactus plant), it has the highest fructose content as compared to other commercial sweeteners. One tablespoon of agave contains 60 calories, with 15 grams of sugar per serving; it is safe to say that choosing agave nectar doesn’t necessarily make it the best healthy sugar alternative!
Unlike artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols do have some calories. Because of this, common symptoms of consuming sugar alcohols include bloating & diarrhea. When consumed in moderation, sugar alcohols are considered as safe.
To conclude, it is better to avoid artificial sweeteners as studies are showing their long-term negative side effects. Opting for honey is a healthier alternative compared to refined sugar, keeping in mind portion control, as well as Stevia and sugar alcohols since they are considered as a safe & healthy substitute, especially for diabetics.
I’d love to know what’s your go to sweet tooth fix? and please free to reach out if you have any questions!
Yours in Health,