February 16, 2017

Alternatives to Sugar

Indulging your sweet tooth doesn’t mean that you need to add calories to your foods and beverages. Today, there are several sweet alternatives to sugar that allow you to indulge without causing you to feel guilty. Comparing sugar alternatives will allow you to choose the option that fits your personal health, and tastes, best.

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Stevia

Stevia is new in the American market but has been used for generations in South America and Asia. In fact, nearly half of all sweetened products in Asia contain stevia rather than cane sugar. Stevia comes from a plant that is native to South America and has no calories. Since the plant doesn’t contain sugar, it won’t cause blood sugar spikes and is acceptable for diabetic and low calorie diets. Stevia is marketed as a dietary supplement, rather than a sweetener, to meet FDA requirements in the United States.

Xylitol

Xylitol has largely been marketed in gum thanks to its ability to fight the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which can help prevent cavities. Xylitol is also a natural alternative to sugar. The product has the same sweet flavor as sugar but contains fewer calories and is much lower on the glycemic scale than cane sugar. You can buy Xylitol online and use it in drinks and recipes that call for regular sugar. Most experts recommend using about the same amount of Xylitol as regular sugar in recipes, although you may find that using slightly less Xylitol provides enough sweetness for most recipes. When you buy Xylitol online, make sure to opt for a quality product from a reliable company to ensure you get the highest quality possible.

Agave Syrup

Agave syrup, or agave nectar, is relatively new on the food market. This natural sweetener comes from the agave plant and offers the benefit of reduced blood sugar spikes than regular cane sugar. Cooking with agave syrup is possible when you replace the recommended amount of sugar with about two-thirds the amount of sugar called for with agave syrup and eliminating the sugar completely. You will also need to reduce the amount of other liquids that you use in your recipe since the agave syrup provides additional liquids. Since agave nectar is only available in liquid form, it is usually necessary to experiment with replacing the sugar in your favorite recipes with the nectar to produce excellent baked goods and candies.

Saccharine, Aspartame and Other Artificial Sweeteners

In the world of sugar substitutes you may find that artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, are the most commonly used in commercial products. These artificial sweeteners are less than ideal if you are concerned about your personal health or when you want to follow an eco-friendly diet. There are many safer, and tastier, options available. Aspartame has a notable aftertaste and is generally not suited for baking and other types of cooked foods that require the use of sugar. Studies have shown that synthetic sweeteners can actually cause weight gain, as well, making these sweeteners a last resort option only.

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