Replacing Sugar with All Natural Sweetners
Written by Joy Stapleton
The sweeteners that are presented here, although much safer for you than artificial sweeteners, should still be consumed in moderation, as is recommended by Dr. Joseph Mercola, and most other health professionals. In his book, Sweet Deception, Dr. Mercola also explains that eating any type of sweetener on a frequent basis, even if it’s natural, will desensitize your appreciation of sweetness, causing you to use progressively larger amounts of sweetener in order to achieve the same sense of sweetness.
Dr. Michael Gregor is an internationally recognized author and speaker on nutrition and the safety of foods. Dr. Gregor is a general practitioner who specializes in clinical nutrition and has provided a series of health related video segments at NutritionFacts.org, one of which is titled, The Healthiest Sweetener. In the video he compares a dozen sweeteners and by the end of the segment you’ve discovered that not only is date sugar the healthiest sweetener of all, but that it can actually be good for you.
Date Sugar is rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, and it is made from dehydrated dates that have been ground into particles of sugar. Although it’s not suitable for use in beverages because it doesn’t dissolve in liquids, it can be sprinkled on foods to sweeten them. It can also be used as a replacement for table sugar or brown sugar on a one-to-one basis for baking. Dates can also be made into a paste or syrup for use as a sweetener.
Stevia is virtually calorie-free, and where most other sweeteners will cause blood sugar levels to rise, research has shown that stevia will actually lower blood sugar levels, making it the best natural option for diabetics and hyperglycemics. The leaves of the stevia plant have been safely used for centuries for making stevia tea, and as a sweetener in foods and beverages. Stevia sweetener, in its unprocessed purest form, is made by grinding the dried green leaves of the plant into a powder, and then converted that into a liquid form.
Raw Honey contains all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are lost when honey has been heated to a temperature that’s higher than the inside of a beehive. Generally the darker honeys have more vitamins than the lighter ones, and they also provide more trace minerals. Dr. Mercola considers raw unprocessed honey to be a healthy sweetener if it’s used in small quantities; as in less than one teaspoon a day. He also states that raw honey of any kind should be avoided by pregnant women, nursing mothers, and infants up to a year old.
Maple Syrup is minimally processed from the boiled sap of maple trees and most of its vitamins and minerals have been destroyed by the heating process. It’s higher on the glycemic index than honey, but it has less calories. There are two grades of maple syrup, grade A is lighter, more refined, milder in flavor, and grade B is darker, with a rich flavor, and less refined. As a safety concern, you should look for organic brands that are guaranteed to be made without using formaldehyde. As stated at NaturalNews.com, “Formaldehyde is one of the most toxic chemicals that can invade the human body. It is a known carcinogen and tissue irritant.”
Molasses is considered to be a waste product that’s created during the refining process of sugar. The juices that are taken from sugar cane and sugar beets are boiled down into a syrup. The boiling process will cause the sugars to crystallize, the sugar crystals will be extracted, and the resulting mixture that’s left behind is what we call molasses. Blackstrap molasses is the resulting dark mixture that remains after having gone through three separate boiling sessions, and it has less sugar and more nutrients than the lighter colored syrups.
Fructose is primarily found in fruit, but when it’s used in powdered form, or as high fructose corn syrup, it has been highly processed and should be avoided. It doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike as high as other sweeteners so it’s often thought of as a better option than sugar, but it can actually be one of the worst sweeteners on the market as it has been shown to contribute to weight gain, inflammation, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia.
Fruit Juice Concentrates are used to sweeten a lot of organic products, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any better for your health than other sweeteners. These concentrated fruit juices are just another form of sugar that can cause the same health problems in your body as table sugar.