With obesity at epidemic levels the use of sugar substitutes that are safe and beneficial for health is crucial. The options below meet these requirements.
Honey: The taste and color of honey is dependent upon the type of blossom it was gathered from. Honey has the highest sugar content of all natural sweeteners and because it is high in fructose, it is one of the sweetest. Natural Honey is somewhat cloudy. The crystal clear purity of honey in the supermarket is obtained by heating the honey to very high temperatures and thus destroying the natural enzymes.
Fruit Sugar (Fructose): May be derived from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Do not use fructose made from corn syrup. Research indicates that (1) fructose may stimulate the liver to secrete more triglycerides therefore contributing to insulin resistance. (2) may interfere with cholesterol metabolism.
Liquid fructose, as in soft drinks, is the most dangerous. When present in the solid state its action can be diminished by the presence of other substances in food.
Maple Syrup (Pure): Is a naturally occurring sweetener. The flavor is mild and unique, yet its sweetening ability is excellent. It takes 40 gallons of sap from sugar maple trees to make one gallon of maple syrup, thus making it one of the most expensive sweeteners.
Brown Rice Syrup: This is a balanced sweetener. It is primarily a complex carbohydrate which enters the bloodstream more slowly than honey or maple syrup. Brown rice syrup doesn’t contain as high a concentration of nutrients as does barley malt syrup, but it does contain some trace minerals and B-vitamins. It is less concentrated in flavor than other sweeteners and adds a mild, rather than a bold, sweetness.
Xylitol – derived from the bark of birch trees. Looks like sugar and tastes like sugar, but has 1/3 fewer carolories and a low glycemic index. Can be substituted for sugar in baking. Expensive
Date Sugar: Ground from dehydrated dates and is considered more of a food. It is high in fiber and rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including iron. It does not dissolve, however when added to liquids. Date sugar is also quite expensive.
Barley Malt: Less sweet than honey, similar to brown rice syrup in consistency and sweetness. High in complex carbohydrates, it enters the blood stream slowly. The malting process increases the level of B-vitamins in this product. It also contains some trace minerals.
Stevia: This is a small wild shrub found in certain areas of South America. It is a member of the Chrysanthemum family. The sugars found in the leaf of the plant are 300 times sweeter than white sugar. These sugars are called estevian and rebaudin. One teaspoon of dried stevia equals about 8 teaspoons of sugar. It may be used to sweeten hot or cold cereals, herbal teas and in baking. It is also available in a liquid extract form. Stevia actually stabilizes blood sugar and has been found to reduce dental cavities in animal studies. It is truly a great choice for sweeteners—especially during a detox. A sweet treat is a cup of herbal tea with a drop of stevia extract. Stevia is available at most health food stores or from the The Body Ecology Diet 1-800-896-7838. Two ounces of the white powdered stevia costs around $17, and two ounces of the powder to make an extract is around $20.
Note: Aspartame (NutraSweet/ Equal) is a popular low calorie sugar substitute. Aspartame accounts for 75% of all negative reactions reported to the FDA. A list of at least 90 symptoms have been gathered relating to this product including: seizures, panic disorders, blood sugar problems, vertigo, and memory loss. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the effects and we know that teenagers consume lots of diet beverages as part of their daily diet. Avoid aspartame and try some of the other sweeteners listed above.