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Natural Sugar Substitutes: More Health Benefits
- Refined sugar has been linked to numerous health problems, including diabetes and childhood hyperactivity
- Natural sugar substitutes can provide the sweetness we want without the problems associated with sugar processing
- Stevia and Xylitol are two popular natural alternatives
- Honey and agave nectar are also good choices when used in moderation because of their high carbohydrate count
If you’re like most of people, you probably have a craving for something sweet at least occasionally. For many of us, that craving comes a little more often. Clearly, there’s something appealing about the taste of refined sugar. Unfortunately, research has shown that sugar may have negative health consequences, especially if you’re not consuming it in moderation. The good news is natural sugar substitutes may provide us with a solution.
Problems with Processed Sugar
Some of the risks of eating too much sugar are well-known to us. For example, we all know the excess calories from sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity, as well as diabetes and other chronic health conditions. Eating too much sugar and not brushing afterward can lead to teeth decay and gum disease. And sugar has been proven to be an addictive substance that affects the chemicals in the brain. That’s why you have those cravings.
Some people suggest sugar processing can also lead to other health problems, such as headaches, cell damage, yeast infections, eye problems, nutrient deficiencies, and hyperactivity in children. In many cases, the recommendation is to cut out as much refined sugar from the diet as possible and replace it with natural sugar substitutes.
What are Natural Sugar Substitutes?
These products are derived from natural sources and do not go through the extensive processing of sugar, which is also a natural product. Many of these sources contain less calories than traditional sugar and so can also be used as healthy sugar substitutes in place of artificial sweeteners which have been linked to their own fair share of health problems. The list of these natural sugar choices has been growing in recent years but more research is still needed to determine exactly how much safer they are in comparison to common table sugar.
Some of the Natural Sugar Choices
One of the most popular with the whole foods crowd is stevia. Stevia is a herb that you can find throughout South America. It is very sweet – much sweeter than table sugar – so very little is needed to provide the taste you want. Plus, many of the Stevia products on the market also contain FOS which stands for fruit ogiliosaccharides. FOS has a number of health benefits, including helping maintain the good bacteria in your intestines to make sure your digestive system keeps working well.
Some types of unrefined honey and a product called agave nectar (comes from the Mexican agave) are also good choices for sweeteners. However, they do have a lot of carbohydrates so they might be bad choices for dieters and diabetics.
Xylitol is another popular option. In fact, you can find it in some low-calorie products now. Although the name sounds manufactured, the sweetener actually comes from the fibers of plants, vegetables, and fruits. Not only does it contain less than 3 calories per teaspoon but it also can combat some of the health effects of table sugar, such as tooth decay. Consuming too much of this natural substitute can cause digestive discomfort, such as bloating and diarrhea.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Sugar Substitutes13 Mar 2009|