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Natural Sweetners

Comparing Natural Sweeteners

There are a variety of sources of natural sweeteners that can enhance the taste of food while also providing some essential vitamins and minerals. Unrefined and natural sweeteners should be used in moderation in one’s diet, optimally accompanied by some good proteins or fats to prevent a spike and crash in blood sugar.  The following are some examples of sweeteners that could be used in your recipes for a more natural alternative to white sugar in your diet.

Coconut Palm sugar

  • This great alternative to white sugar has a low glycemic index.
  • Source of minerals, vitamin C, B vitamins, and some amino acids.

Honey

  • Can be helpful for relieving allergy symptoms.
  • Raw honey has natural enzymes and nutrients such as potassium, calcium and phospho­rus.
  • Is well known for its healing antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Should never be fed to children under the age of two.

Maple Syrup

  • Contains minerals and enzymes.
  • Grade B syrup is tapped later in the season, when the moisture content is lower. That results in a more pronounced flavor and a darker color.

Molasses

  • This byproduct of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar is a wonderful source of iron and calcium.

Stevia

  • Stevia is simply a green herb – you can grow it yourself!
  • Be sure to buy 100% stevia, not brands like Tru-via that contain more dextrose than ste­via. (Remember: read the ingredient list!)
  • Great in natural drinks, yogurt, baked goods, etc.

Sucanat

  • Sucanat, or SUgar CAe NATural, is unrefined sugar cane juice that has been allowed to dry out before being granulated. The concentrated nutrients that form molasses are still found in sucanat.
  • Can be substituted 1:1 for both white and brown sugar. Especially good for baking!

Xylitol

  • Made from sugar alcohol.
  • Inhibits the bacteria which causes tooth decay. (Xylitol is an ingredient in many brands of toothpaste.)
  • Use in moderation since an excessive amount of xylitol can cause stomach upset.

What about Agave?

  • Comes from the agave cactus, from which tequila is made.
  • Contrary to what the term “nectar“ suggests, agave has been shown to not be far more refined than marketing claims suggest. I no longer recommend it to my clients, nor do I use it myself.
  • High in fructose and very processed form of sweetener.
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