Trying to shake off the sugar in your diet but wondering how you’re going to satisfy your sweet tooth? Here’s the truth about sugar alternatives:
Artificial Sweeteners (Splenda, Sweet ‘N Low, Equal)
Many people turn to sugar substitutes as a calorie-free way to add a taste of sweetness. The possible benefits of artificial sweeteners include weight management and blood sugar control. However, they are synthetic sugar substitutes, so be cautious not to consume too much! Animal studies have linked artificial sweeteners with increased risk of certain types of cancer and some health effects have been noted in humans. Another caveat- the taste of sugar stimulates appetite, but artificial sweeteners do not stimulate the brain in the same way that sugar does, so these substitutes can cause cravings and lead to overeating.
This natural sugar substitute is another calorie free option that is derived from the stevia plant, but its history has been a bit controversial. Throughout Asia and South America, this plant has been used for centuries and is claimed to be a miracle sweetener, curing various health conditions. However, the use of Stevia as a food additive has been banned in Canada and most of the European Union, though it has been approved as a safe food additive in America. It does not trigger an insulin response so it may be a good option for diabetics and it can be useful for weight management because it is calorie-free. The downside? Stevia may interact with lithium or diabetic medications, so it would be best to talk to your doctor before using it.
Sugar in the Raw
When trying to cut out refined sugar, many people turn to Sugar in the Raw as a natural alternative. It is less processed than white sugar, but it still has the same effects on raising blood glucose as the more processed varieties. Too much added sugar of any kind can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of health conditions. To keep it short and sweet: Sugar in the Raw is simply a less processed version of white sugar, so opt for naturally sweet foods like fruit instead of added sugars.
This syrupy sweetener is made of 80% sugar, 18% water, and 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen, and protein. It is sweeter than table sugar, so you can use less and still get the sweetness. Plus, if you buy local honey, you get the added benefit of local pollen, which may reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
Some people consider agave a “miracle sweetener,” and while it contains a small amount of nutrients, it is still a sugary syrup and it would be best to keep your servings small. The benefit? Agave is lower than white sugar and honey on the glycemic index scale, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly. The downside? It contains a higher percentage of fructose than high fructose corn syrup.
When trying to cut back on added sugar, it’s best to try a few options and see what works for you. Just remember, it can take up to 3 weeks for our tastebuds to get used to the changes we make, so be patient! You might find that after a few weeks, you don’t experience sugar cravings any more.