Sugar is seemingly everywhere these days. From snacks and entrees to drinks and desserts – the excess sugar that companies are sneaking into food can wreak havoc on your overall long-term health and wellness. It’s most insidious incarnation is presented to consumers as high fructose corn syrup, which is used FAR too often in packaged convenience foods. This high glycemic sweetener raises your blood sugar level quickly and has been linked to the onset of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It can also damage your immune system and speed up the aging process. In short: this is some nasty stuff, y’all. Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, white sugar and aspartame like the plague and simply opt instead for natural, low glycemic options instead. Now available at mainstream grocery store chains – here are my top 5 natural and low glycemic sweeteners:
Stevia has been used as a sweetener for centuries but only recently has become popular in the United States due to its zero calorie and low glycemic index (GI) appeal. It contains nearly one hundred identified phytonutrients which can help prevent disease and keep your body working the way it should. Stevia can have 300 times the sweetness of sugar so experiment a little when you first start using it. It can be found in leaf, liquid or powder form, just make sure you avoid overly processed brands that contain artificial sweeteners as an additive. The most common uses for stevia are sweetening drinks such as tea, lemonade or coffee and in baking (though make sure you research on how to use it as a sugar replacement as it’s not an equal substitution).
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can also be extracted from birch trees. It is a common sugar replacement for diabetics due to the fact it does not affect insulin levels and has an incredibly low GI. Scientist also discovered xylitol has dental benefits and may aid in rebuilding tooth enamel which is why it is often found as a sweetener in gum. It can be found in crystal form and is used as a sweetener in candies and drinks.
Lakanto is a zero calorie and zero GI alternative sweetener that can be used as an equal replacement to sugar in recipes. Made from fermented erythritol (sugar alcohol found in grapes, pears & mushrooms) and the sweet extract of the luo han guo fruit. Excellent for diabetics, people with candida or anyone looking for a healthier option to sugar.
4. Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut Palm Sugar is one of the best alternative sweeteners out there with a low GI and high nutritional value. It is high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron and is a natural source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. The slow energy release of this sugar eliminates the normal highs and lows you experience with cane sugar. It can be found in granules or nectar form and can be used as an equal replacement in baking. Some brands mix it with cane sugar so look for pure coconut palm sugar products.
5. Jerusalem Artichoke Inulin
Jerusalem Artichoke Inulin is a soluble fiber with a sweet taste that is used as a sugar replacement for people with candida or diabetes. It can be used to replace other sweeteners in recipes or as a supplement to aid in lowering glucose and lipid levels. Grb it in powder form from online health retailers.
I hope this helps get you away from artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup and closer to a healthier, happier you!