Fact: Sugar is bad for you. Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, promote tooth decay, has no essential nutrients, eating too much of it will result in it being stored as fat – which overloads the liver and can result in fatty liver disease.
It is also linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune system deficiency, and obesity. Lastly, but certainly not least is cancer. Cancer cells feed on sugar and need it to survive as cancer is uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells.
But what do you do if you have a sweet tooth like me? What can be used to replace sugar? Luckily there are many options out there – both artificial and natural. I’ve summed up the popular choices and provide a brief break down of pros and cons so you can be better informed when shopping, baking or sweetening your coffee!
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) – Calories: 0
Health Info: One of the most studied artificial sweeteners, aspartame has been accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer. Saccharin is in this same category.
Sucralose (Splenda) – Calories: 0
Health benefits: None.
Ideal Use: This sweetener is one of the few not sensitive to heat and can therefore be used in baking.
Honey – Calories: 21/tsp.
Health benefits: It’s a natural antibacterial, boosts the immune system, promotes digestive health, and is high in antioxidants. It also stabilizes blood pressure and helps balance blood sugar levels as it has a slow and steady rise in blood sugar after eating it compared to sugar’s spike.
Agave Nectar – Calories: 20/tsp.
Health benefits: Although its taste and texture are similar to honey, it doesn’t contain as many antioxidants as honey. Agave, however, is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less to get similar sweetness.
Stevia Leaf Extract (Truvia, Pure Via) – Calories: 0
Health benefits: The sweet leaves have been used for hundreds of years and by diabetic patients in Asia for decades. Choose liquid stevia when possible as it doesn’t contain any other ingredients unlike powdered stevia which contains fillers.
Coconut Sugar – Calories: 15/tsp.
Health benefits: Coconut sugar contains traces of iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, we well as antioxidants. It has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels, making it another ideal option for diabetics.
Ideal Use: Baking
Pure Maple Syrup (evaporated maple tree sap) – Calories: 52/tbsp.
Health benefits: It is high in manganese and zinc. Manganese is necessary for several enzymes that are needed for energy production and antioxidant defenses. Zinc is essential for optimal immune system function.
Molasses – Calories: 58/tbsp.
Health benefits: 2 tablespoons of molasses has 30% of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women. It is also high in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants.