Are you overwhelmed by the variety of sugar substitutes available nowadays? To help you make informed choices, the following is a list of pros and cons.
If you are following the trend and trying to reduce the amount of table sugar you have in your diet, you may be turning to artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes.
Today, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are found in a wide variety of foods and drinks. They are loosely marketed as ‘sugar free’ or ‘diet’. However, are these foods really sugar free? There are many food products that although are sugar free (as in the white powdered table sugar that we have come to know and love), it would still do the same things in your body that sugar does. One such product is rice malt sugar. This product although is healthier on the liver, will still spike your blood sugar levels equivalent to that of sugar.
What are sweeteners?
Sweeteners are those sugar substitutes, both artificial and natural. These can be divided into four groups with differing health properties.
- Artificial Sweeteners. Namely aspartame and saccharin, are produced from chemical compounds. These sweeteners provide no calories and are referred to as non-nutritive sweeteners
- Sugar Alcohols. These are derived from substances found in many vegetables and fruits. An example of a sugar alcohol is xylitol. They are not alcoholic as they do not contain ethanol
- Novel Sweeteners. These are the most recent popular addition to the sugar substitutes. They are from stevia extracts which are a group of more than 200 herbs or shrubs within the sunflower family
- Natural Sweeteners. These are fruit juices, agave nectar, honey, rice malt syrup and maple syrup. These are basically the same as sugar in terms of calorie and carbohydrate content.
Moderation is the key with sugar substitutes
It always pays to be a savvy consumer when it comes to sugar substitutes. In other words, everything in moderation. Your health will benefit if you use sugar substitutes only when necessary such as baking, cooking etc. It is important not to go overboard in the processed foods area, as even though it does not contain table sugar, too much of something is not always a good thing.
Printer Friendly Version
Related Modalities Nutrition