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17 Natural Sweeteners Alternatives

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As much as we try and fight our sugar cravings sometimes it can feel absolutely IMPOSSIBLE.  In fact sugar has been proven to be addicting and the average American eats more than than two times that amount of sugar that the USDA recommends.

Below is a list of natural sweeteners you can use instead of refined white sugar to help you keep your blood sugar levels more balanced BUT while these sweetness are generally better for you than the white stuff they still need to be consumed in moderation.  Read the in’s and out’s of each and made an educated decision on what sweetener feels right for you.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.19.55 AMAgave nectar/syrup is a natural liquid sweetener that comes from the juice of the agave cactus. While agave nectar has a relatively low effect on blood sugar levels it is high in fructose which has been under a lot of scrutiny due to it’s similarities with high fructose corn syrup. Fructose can actually INCREASE cravings and overeating due to the hormone lepitin, so be careful with how much you consume this stuff.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.20.02 AMBarley malt syrup is a slightly sweet, thick, sticky, brown sweetener (and sometimes in the form of a powder).  It is made from barley and it moves much slower in the digestive system than refined sugars. Many consumers prefer this natural sweetener because it moves through the digestive system slower than other refined sugars.   It contains 65% maltose, 30% complex carbohydrate, and 3% protein.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.20.09 AMAlso know as xylitol, comes from birch tree fiber and is found in many fruits and vegetables. Some research suggests that this tuff can actually prevent tooth decay and ear infections, plus it is safe for diabetics to consume because it’s sugars are not easily turned into fat.  Be careful though with consuming TOO MUCH sugar alcohols, you may experience, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.20.17 AM Birch syrup is made from the sap of birch trees. It tastes similar to maple syrup but the difference is this stuff is made of fructose, that controversial stuff we talked about that’s in agave nectar.  On the bright birch syrup is loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, manganese, thiamine, and calcium.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.22.04 AMbrown rice syrup comes from brown rice (who would’ve guessed?) This stuff tastes slightly like butterscotch, but beware – it’s EXTRA sticky.  Brown rice syrup is about 50% complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. Since this sweetener contains a good amount of complex carbs the sugars are more slowly digested into your blood stream, giving you a more steady supply of energy.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.22.12 AMCoconut sugar, while it contains the same amount of carbs and calories as regular sugar, it actually has a lot of benefits.  It is a good source of potassium, iron, and vitamins, plus it is less likely to cause you to have blood sugar spikes in comparison to the refined stuff.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.22.19 AM If you like the taste of dates, then you will love date sugar. While it’s not so good for baking you might still enjoy date sugar sprinkled on top of your oatmeal or mixed into a homemade ice cream.  Date sugar contains the same vitamins, minerals and fiber as the fruit.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.22.44 AMErythritol is a sugar alcohol that comes in a powder form.  Erythritol doesn’t have an sort of affect your blood sugar or cause tooth decay, BUT in large doses it can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Did you know that honey isScreen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.22.50 AM sweeter than sugar? If you buy this stuff in the raw form you can get small amounts of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. BONUS: if you consume local honey it has been said it can help you with seasonal allergies!  (it build your immune system by putting more bee pollen into your body).

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.22.56 AMMaple sugar is about twice as sweet as standard sugar, but much it’s actually a lot less refined, it’s got nutrients that while sugar doesn’t which makes it the better choice.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.02 AMMaple syrup actually contains quite a few vitamins and minerals, it is an especially great source of manganese and zinc.  It’s lower in fructose than agave, just make sure you aren’t buying the cheap fake crap – look for Grade B organic maple syrup.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.08 AMIf I had to chose the most nutrient dense sweetener out of the bunch, organic molasses we be my pick.  Molasses comes from the sugar beet, and it makes for a very good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.14 AMRapadura, like molasses, comes from the sugar cane, or sugar beet plant.  It comes in a powder form and when it’s organic it can be rich in vitamins and minerals like iron.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.22 AMStevia is approximately 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. Stevia has a little effect on your blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics.  Stevia is can be found in a powder or liquid form, but make sure to steer clear from the white or clear varieties as they are highly processed.  Go for the the green or brown liquids or powders.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.30 AMSucanat is sugar cane in it’s natural form.  The difference is it is made in natural mechanical process, and it still contains many of the original vitamins and minerals that are found in sugar cane.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.36 AMTurbinado sugar is what is found in those little “Sugar in the Raw” packets.  It is very similar to regular white sugar but it is SLIGHTLY less processed.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 1.23.43 AMIf you are someone who is plagued by candida (yeast/fungus) Vegetable glycerin is a good choice for you since it does not contain sucrose.  This stuff can be found in a liquid thick syrup form.

(information provided from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition) 

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