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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Safe and Natural Sugar Alternatives

There is a good reason to avoid chemical-laden artificial sweeteners. They have been linked to many dangerous health conditions such as obesity and cancer. There is no reason you have to go for those artificial sweeteners with so many great natural options. Let's talk about several better alternatives.

Let's start with Stevia.
What is it? It is a shrubby South American herb that has leaves that are sweeter than sugar, but zero calories. It was first used by natives in 1887. Clinical data has found that Stevia helps to regulate blood sugar, suppress dental bacteria, encourage weight loss, and regulate blood pressure. No negative reactions to the herb have been discovered.

It sounds good. Personally, I have never tried it, but I do feel it would be a better option than Nutrisweet or some other artificial sweetener.

What about Agave Nectar?
What is it? It is a syrup that has a neutral sweet flavor. It is reported to have a low glycemic index and to cause minimal fluctuations in blood sugar.

I have several diabetic friends who use Agave Nectar and just love it! I have thought about using it, but I usually stick with my old standby - honey.

So, let's talk about Honey now.

I think you all know what honey is. Of all the sweeteners, raw, unfiltered honey is probably the closest to nature and the least refined. I use it for everything from adding to my peanut butter toast to replacing sugar in my baking.

What about Brown Rice Syrup?

What is it? It is made by adding enzymes to cooked rice to break down the starches. It has a lighter color and texture than barley malt syrup, and it can be used liek honey or agave. It is not intensely sweet, either.

Last, but not least, let's talk about Xylitol.

What is it? It is a sugar alcohol that's found in many fruits and vegetables. It is absorbed slowly, and has 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. You may have also heard about it because of the fact that it can reduce tooth decay rates.

I have seen it and used it in packs of gum and in toothpaste. But, I have never used it in cooking or food.

Whether you choose to use sugar or to use a sugar substitute, always try to stay as natural as you can and use moderation to keep calories down.


  1. Thanks for the scoop on all these different sweeteners. My favorite is also honey -- I love the honey stand at the farmers market where I can sample about ten different types of honey (orange blossom!). I stopped taking sugar in my tea a few years ago and am amazed at how clean it tastes without it.

  2. I've been using Stevia and honey. I like experimenting with honeys, if I could afford it, I'd luv to order honey from France from lavender fields.

    1. That would be so awesome, Rose-Marie! I can just imagine the taste!!


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