Tag Archives: Sugar Substitutes

Sugar Substitutes – Good and Bad

“Healthy” Alternatives (Beware)

There are many popular alternatives advertised as “healthy” – but, they are actually far from healthy, and should be avoided. In fact, some of them are among the hidden sugars used in many processed and pre-packaged foods. So, do not be fooled by the marketing labels declaring them healthy.

  • Brown Sugar – Many people assume that since it is brown in color, rather than white, that it is not processed and a healthier choice. That is not the case. Brown sugar is also highly processed (refined), but a little molasses was added back to add moisture and the brown color. It should be avoided just as much as white refined sugar.
  • Agave Nectar – This substitute has been highly advertised as a healthy sugar alternative. Even celebrity Doctor Oz has been a supporter of this product. In fact, you may have even read that you can eat as much as you want because it is lower on the glycemic index than other alternatives. Do not believe the hype. It is still sugar and is not healthy. In fact, there are some recent studies that show its high fructose content can contribute to insulin resistance. The American Diabetes Association lists agave as a sweetener to limit along with refined sugars.
  • Organic Cane Sugar – This is a pure marketing ploy. It is exactly the same as regular table sugar and affects your body the same way. Organic sugar is still sugar!
  • Coconut Sugar – This sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees and is low in the glycemic index, but neither of those factors makes it healthy. It is still sugar. The only difference in this sugar and regular table sugar is that it contains some nutrients. However, it would be much wiser to eat actual food filled with healthy nutrients than to justify your sugar intake by eating “healthy” coconut sugar.
  • Evaporated Cane Juice – Another pseudo healthy sugar. This is just sugar – empty calories with no nutritional value.

56 Names of sugarThere are many types of sugars and sugar substitutes with names that are confusing and difficult to read. The good news is that they are usually listed on nutrition labels, which you must learn to read.

It is also important to stay up-to-date on sugar terminology because as people become more aware and knowledgeable, there is no doubt that the food industry and “health gurus” will change the names of sugars being used.

Common Substitutes to Avoid

Artificial Sweeteners
Image by Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon

Below is a list of some of the more common, and well-known substitutes. This is not a complete list. There are more, with new ones being added all the time.

More and more people are opting for “sugar-free” diets, but they still crave sweet food, which makes sugar substitutes a lucrative market. As a result, manufacturers who care nothing about the health of their customers will jump on the band wagon. Their only focus is making money, and they will do whatever they can to sell a new sugar substitute regardless of its impact on anyone’s health.

  • Aspartame – This is the main ingredient in Equal® and NutraSweet®.   It can also be found in candy, chewing gum, frozen desserts, gelatin, jams and fruit spreads, soft drinks, drink mixes, yogurt, and condiments. There are a few studies that indicate it can cause tumors, leukemia, and other cancers.  It has been labeled, “The most dangerous of all sweeteners.”
  • Truvia® – This is a new brand-name sweetener that has hit the market big. Coca-Cola®/Cargill marketing was smart to piggy-back on Stevia® a natural, healthy sweetener, with marketing slogans like, “The best sweetness comes from nature. Truvia sweetener is natural, great-tasting sweetness born from the leaves of the stevia plant.” The truth is that there is practically no stevia plant in the product and it does not contain any of the health benefits of Stevia®. It also has some additional additives that you do not want to ingest. A study conducted by Drexel University showed that Truvia® actually kills fruit flies – does not sound like something I want to put in my body.
  • Saccharin – Sold as Sweet and Low®, Sweet Twin®, and Sugar Twin®.  A number of years ago there was a reported link between saccharin and bladder cancer, which has resulted in saccharin being the most investigated of all artificial sweeteners. As of now, there is still no solid proof of the link in humans. However, there are side effects resulting from the use that have been reported for people who suffer with sulfa allergies.
  • Sucralose – This is distributed in the yellow packet known as Splenda®. They did a great job advertising it as “safe to use.”  Potential problems such as reducing good intestinal bacteria needed for digestion, decreasing medication effectiveness and possibly altering insulin response were discovered in a study at Duke University.
  • Acesulfame Potassium – This is packaged and sold as Sweet One® and Sunett®. It has been available for a long time, but very few studies have been conducted to verify or negate its safety of use. There are preliminary studies that show a link to multiple cancers in laboratory animals.

My recommendation is to avoid using these sugar substitutes. The evidence regarding the dangers or safety of artificial sweeteners is actually mixed and the question of whether we should use them, or not, is highly controversial. The questions regarding their safety are enough to keep me away – how about you?

Studies do show that these sweeteners, like sugar, do not satiate your hunger. In fact, they make you hungrier and intensify your craving for sweets.

Sweeteners to Use in Moderation

I am happy to report that there are a few sweeteners that seem to be safer than the ones listed above. However, even these should be used in moderation.

  • Stevia – This is made from the leaves of a South American plant, Rebaudiana. It is an herb that has been used for centuries.  It has “0” calories, “0” carbs, and is also zero on the glycemic index. Be sure to buy the real thing – and not the “copy cats.” The taste is a little unusual and takes some “getting used to,” but I have used it for years and find it quite effective. It is a good choice for baking and as a sweetener for tea and coffee.
  • Raw Honey (Local Variety Only) – This has been used for a long time as a natural remedy for allergies, but don’t go overboard. A nice cup of hot tea with one or two teaspoons of honey is plenty. Or – slowly eat a small teaspoon for a sweet treat that will help your allergies.
  • REAL Maple Syrup – There are many products on the market that read maple syrup, but when you check the labels, it is basically sugar syrup with maple flavoring. When you shop, be sure you buy 100% maple syrup ONLY (the pricey one).  It can be used in small quantities when baking and is a great sugar substitute on your morning oatmeal.
  • Black Strap Molasses – My mother used to give this to us as an iron supplement when I was a child. She was actually on to something. It is good for you because of its high iron content. I have never liked the taste of it much except in cookies – baking is an excellent use for it. It is also quite tasty on whole-grain toast for a healthy snack.
  • Sugar Alcohols – Erythritol, Xulitol, Xylitol, and Sorbitol. There are not many safety and toxicity studies on sugar alcohols, and at the moment, are generally accepted as safe. However, it would be wise to use them in moderation. Mints and gum containing these are a better choice than those filled with sugar. Be aware that the sugar alcohols can cause tummy distress.
  • Yacon Syrup – Derived from the sweet root of the yacon plant, which grows in the Andes in South America. It has been used by the natives  for over 100 years for medicinal purposes in treating diabetes plus kidney and digestive disorders. It is currently touted as a weight loss aid. The supporting studies are promising. As with Stevia and maple syrup, be sure to get the real thing.
  • Dried Fruit – Dates, raisins, currents, apricots, and other dried fruit are very tasty – and sweet, but use them sparingly. They have a much higher sugar content than the raw, fresh versions of the fruit, which makes them a poor choice as a snack. But, they are great in baked goods or finely chopped and used for toppings.

Any of the above natural sweeteners used in moderation will help you move forward with a sugar-free diet, which will help you lose weight, feel better and clear your mind from the fog that sugar addiction creates.

Eat Well, Get Fit, Be Happy!

Remove Refined Sugar from Your Diet

The American Diet Is in Crisis

Remove refined sugar from your diet
Image by Flynt

Excessive consumption of refined sugar has become a serious health problem in the United States.If you are serious about living a healthier lifestyle, a critical step you must take is to remove refined sugar from your diet.

How Did This Happen?

It started out quite innocently. In fact, the roots are found in an effort to make Americans healthier.

In 1961 the American Heart Association (AHA) published a report advocating the prevention of heart disease by reducing dietary fat. Low-fat diets were recommended specifically for individuals who were high-risk for heart disease.

Then, in 1977 the U.S. government recommended low-fat diets for the general public. By 1980 even the scientific community, the Surgeon General, and the World Health Organization jumped on the band wagon and promotion of low-fats diets became prevalent around the world.

Of course, manufacturers followed the lead and found ways to profit from the massive free promotion for low-fat foods. Unfortunately, they replaced fat with refined white sugar to enhance the flavor.  This created a plethora of “low-fat,” high-calorie foods that the public joyfully scooped up believing they were protecting their health. What they didn’t realize was that the low-fat foods were equally dangerous to their health as the fatty foods they were replacing.

The craving for sugars has increased and obesity has become an even bigger problem than it had been previously.

Empty-calorie sugary foods are not good for your health. An underlying complication is that the body’s physiology is designed to enjoy the taste of sweets. Plus, the brain needs glucose to function properly. In other words, you need some sugar.

If you were to stop eating all forms of sugar including the natural sugars found in whole fruit, you may begin to feel foggy-brained and your ability to concentrate may be weakened.  There are studies that support the theory that students who eat something sweet before taking a test often perform better. That’s where the term “study food” comes from. However, for good health, it is critical to learn the difference between good sugar and bad sugar.

Refined Sugar (in any form) Is Bad for YOU!

Processed (refined) sugar should be eliminated completely from your diet. There is absolutely no nutritional benefit from white sugar. It is extremely high in calories and often accompanied by unhealthy fat, as well. Refined sugar in all forms is very bad for your health.

You must be careful because sugar is well-hidden in many packaged foods. It is also listed under many names that you may not recognize as sugar.

For Example :

  • Beet Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup, Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, or Corn Syrup Solids
  • Dextrin. Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Lactose,
  • Maltose, Saccharose, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Xylose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • High-fructose corn syrup

Avoid Sugar Substitutes

There are many sugar substitutes on the market – and the vast majority should not be taken into the human body. Not only are they bad for you, studies show that diet sodas often cause you to gain weight – not lose it. The only one that I would recommend are sweeteners made from the Stevia Plant (from South America).

We have already established that your body needs sugar, so what do you do?

Eat Only Natural Sugar

Fruit – Whole, fresh fruit is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fructose (natural fruit sugar) – all important nutrients and good for your health. Even with diabetes – as long as you balance your sugar intake with other foods – fruit is good for you.

Raw Honey – Honey is high in calories; but, it is sweeter than sugar so you can use less. AND . . .  it is beneficial to your health. For example – because you eat it in smaller quantities, it does not have the same impact on blood sugar levels the way refined sugar does, and when you eat local honey, it helps control your allergies.

Dried fruit is a nice sweetener for almost anything. For example – dates, raisins, and chopped apples taste great in oatmeal, no processed sugar needed

If you want a good list of why you should stop eating sugar, check out this article: 15 Amazing Things That Happen When You Quit Sugar.  

If you haven’t already removed sugar from you diet, PLEASE, stop now. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you much sooner than you think!.

15 Sugar Substitutes

You should find and use sugar substitutes in your daily diet. Not only is refined sugar incredibly bad for your health, it adds unnecessary calories to the body that are converted to fat reserves that are stored in the body as flab.

Sugar has been linked to heart disease in a study published on JAMA Internal Medicine. The study found that the majority of adults in the United States eat far more sugar than is recommended (which everyone probably already knows); and, there is a significant relationship between sugar consumption and increased risk for heart disease mortality.

For more detailed information, read this article:  10 Disturbing Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad for You. You should take this information seriously – sugar is dangerous to your health.

It is critical that you find healthy sugar substitutes to use while preparing your meals – and start using them immediately.

Some of the most recommended sugar substitutes include

Image by Hillary Stein
Image by Hillary Stein

1.  Honey – Is full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Spread it on whole-wheat bread or add it to oatmeal to satisfy the craving for sweets first thing in the morning. Honey comes in different flavors depending on the type of flowers in the area where it is harvested

2. Artificial Sweeteners – Artificial Sweeteners can be used in baking, sweetening drinks, and in any recipe to replace processed sugar.

Brands Include:
•    Stevia (all natural from a plant)
•    NutraSweet
•    Equal
•    Sweet ‘N’ Low
•    Splenda
•    Sweet One

3.  Applesauce – The old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is true, which is a good reason to substitute “no-sugar added” apple sauce for sugar in your baked goods. This allows you to enjoy your treat without all the extra calories.

4.    Dates and Figs – Both add flavor, dimension, and tons of nutrition as a sugar substitute to many recipes. Baked goods made with figs and dates as a substitute for sugar will soon become a staple in your breakfast, lunch or dinner regimen. Try this substitution with cakes, muffins, and breads.

5.    Lemon – Squeezing half a lemon in a pitcher of water will enable you to drink the recommended amount of water. The tangy taste of lemon in oatmeal will help you enjoy this hearty breakfast without the need for unhealthy sugars.

6.    Cinnamon – This is a “must have” sweet spice that can be used in a variety of baked goods. It is also great on oatmeal and sprinkled on top of your morning tea or coffee.  It has a delicious aroma that will activate your taste buds without adding extra calories to your meals.

7.    Raisins – These can be eaten alone to satisfy your sweet tooth; or, added into the batter when baking for a delicious treat. They are full of fiber and antioxidants.

8.    Cranberries:  These are tart and sweet at the same time and loaded with antioxidants. Enjoy delicious multigrain pancakes, scones or muffins loaded with cranberries instead of sugar. Add them to your cereal and skip the sugar for a good start in the morning. Give your taste buds a treat and remember cranberries are not just for the holidays.

9.    100% Pure Maple Syrup – This delicious natural sweetener is filled with antioxidants. Drizzle it on your waffles or pancakes or add into a glass of cold non-fat milk for a sweet treat to quench thirst on a hot afternoon.

10.    Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Cocoa is also full of antioxidants and provides that wonderful chocolate flavor to a glass of milk (hot or cold). It can be combined with vanilla, a dash of cinnamon, and a little Stevia for a delicious treat that does not require refined sugar.  It is a good substitute for processed chocolate in baked goods.

11.    Pureed Banana – Very ripe bananas are very sweet and can be added to cold milk for a tasty milk shake or used in baked goods. A bowl of oatmeal with added ripe bananas makes a hearty breakfast that is full of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health.

12.    Apricot Puree – Apricots contains vitamin C and iron; they are sweet to the palate making this puree an ideal, delicious spread for your baked items.

13.    Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice – This is full of vitamin C that boosts your immune system. You can have it first thing in the morning to improve your mood and give you a shot of quick energy to face your busy day. It is an excellent substitute for white sugar – especially good in smoothies.

14.    Sucanat – This is obtained from natural cane juice and contains vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients; it can be added into your beverages and baked items.

15.    Molasses – Made from a combination of sugarcane, beetroot and grapes. It has a delicious aroma full of vitamin c, iron and calcium for healthy baked items. Drizzle it on your fruit salad to tantalize your palate.