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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.

10 Responses to “Natural Sugar Substitutes: More Health Benefits”

  1. 1
    Lydia Says:
    I have been so sick for the past year with terrible daily headaches, dry heaves and gastro problems, brain fog, panic attacks and a very speedy deline with my vision in less than 7 months. I have gone to an internest, an ENT doctor, my sinuses were checked, I was checked for allergies and nothing came of it. Several days ago, I decided to stop my heavy use of SPLENDA and other artificial sweeteners just as a test. Well 3 days later, my headaches have lessened considerably, my eyesight has improved a bit and I am not having the dry heaves so far. I am now suspicious even more so that the SPLENDA has been doing all this to me. My use of it has escalated so much in the past 8 months and I really don't like things too sweet but it seems I developed a craving for more and more SPLENDA. Anybody have the same problems?
  2. 2
    Trevor Says:
    Is it true what the commercials are saying about corn syrup? That, as a sweetner, it's okay if you just eat it in moderation?
  3. 3
    Gary Says:
    I've never heard of Xylitol before. What is it? Is it really safe?
  4. 4
    Jessica Says:
    You have no idea how great honey can be in place of sugar. It is so much healthier for you as well, plus the taste is just so evocative.
  5. 5
    Julian Says:
    It's great to see some healthy sugar substitutes mentioned. People need to realize that they don't have to stop enjoying sweet treats, they just need to switch it up a bit.
  6. 6
    Phil Says:
    So really, I have to say that cooking with sugar is out now-a-day and cooking with a sugar substitute is a heck of a lot better. I've made the switch and you should too!
  7. 7
    Andrea Says:
    Come to think of it, I often get headaches when I eat really sweet things, like pastries. I never thought to put two and two together there.
  8. 8
    Vickie Says:
    I have to say that after reading so many different articles about how bad sweetner's are for you, I've given them up. Natural sugar all the way baby -- in moderation of course!
  9. 9
    Troy Says:
    Personally, I think that sugar sweeteners taste really really good but after reading this, I am going to reconsider my choices a lot. I think that natural sugar might be better.
  10. 10
    Darren Says:
    Having a not natural sugar in anything is honestly not all that good for you. It has been proven in a lot of studies that sugar substitutes honestly are not good for your body.