As I’m sure you know, all sweeteners are not created equal. Some are natural; some are artificial; some are harmful; some are healthier. Today I give you a primer of some of the most popular good, bad and ugly sweeteners for you to make the right choice for your health.
Sucrose (white sugar, brown sugar, turbinado or raw sugar). These sugars have gone through a purification process to remove “certain coarseness or impurities.” The result is something sweet with very little or no nutrients. White sugar has been refined the most, being bleached and whitened through a liquid process to give it its color. Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses and/or caramel coloring added to it. When we eat white sugar, we consume the bleaching agents and other chemicals that have been used to whiten it.
Dextrose—This is sugar that comes from corn and is found in fruits. When dextrose is treated with enzymes, some of it turns to fructose (corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup). There is no nutritional value with dextrose.
Refined sugars are empty calories; we get no nutrients but more weight and contribute to tooth decay. They decrease the efficiency of white blood cells, which help fight off disease, keeping our immune system strong.
Aspartame— Equal and NutraSweet are aspartame, which is a chemical that has been linked to dizziness, hallucinations, headaches (which I get if I have this substance) and a host of other health problems. One health care provider calls it “Sweet poison.”
Saccharin—Sweet-n-Low is saccharin, which is a chemical that studies showed caused bladder cancer in male rats. The government issued a warning label for saccharin in the 1970s. That label was removed in the 1990s.
Sucralose—This is Splenda, which has been given mixed health reviews. I avoid this and all artificial sweeteners altogether.
Natural Sweetener Alternatives
Sugar alcohols—Sorbitol, lactitol and mannitol are the names of sugar alcohols. The latter two have less calories than sugar. Though natural, they have been known to cause bloating and diarrhea in some people.
Stevia—This is a sweetener derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. You can get this no calorie herbal sweetener in powder and liquid forms. Stevia has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar level. This is a good sweetener for diabetics.
Agave nectar—Like stevia, agave nectar, derived from the agave plant, has a low glycemic index. This is my go to choice for teas, cooking and baking and it’s delicious.
What sweeteners do you use? If you have used natural alternatives to sugar, what have been your results?
Copyright 2011 by Rhonda J. Smith