Do you have a sweet tooth? Did your latest medical exams reveal that you are at risk of developing diabetes?
About 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, which is roughly 10% of the nation’s population. Moreover, over 200,000 children and adolescents under 20 years old have the disease.
If you have diabetes, one of the first things to do is to ditch artificial sugar. What if you’re struggling to kick your sweet habit or using sugar? The answer is to use the best natural sweeteners available today.
What exactly are these natural sweeteners that serve as sugar substitutes? Continue reading below for six of the best ones to consider.
This natural sweetener comes from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana. It is a shrub that hails from South America. The great thing about stevia is that it can yield up to 350 times more sweetness than sugar.
Despite its potency to deliver sweetness, it doesn’t come with any calories. Furthermore, the leaves of the plant come with plenty of phytochemicals and nutrients. Hence, certain studies link stevia to different health benefits.
A perfect example is the health benefits of stevioside, which is the plant’s sweet compound. Studies reveal that stevioside can help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and insulin levels.
When it comes to the taste, stevia is sweet, though it doesn’t taste like your regular sugar. Instead, it is comparable to the taste of sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin.
When it comes to the body’s processing of stevia, it breaks down the glycosides into steviol. In turn, the body will excrete the steviol. As for the glucose, the body’s intestinal bacteria will use it.
This means it will not enter your bloodstream and increase your blood sugar.
2. Yacon Syrup
Another one of those natural sugar substitutes from South America is yacon syrup. It comes from the yacon plant and features a sweet, dark, and thick consistency. Some may even mistake it for molasses.
Interestingly, this sweet syrup contains about 50% of fructooligosaccharides. It is a type of sugar molecule that the body cannot digest. As a result, it contains a third of the caloric content of regular sugar.
Aside from the sweetness, the fructooligosaccharides also yield some health benefits. For starters, it can help lower your body’s glycemic index. It can also help you in your weight management.
A study revealed that fructooligosaccharides could help you feel full faster. In turn, you will tend to eat less. Additionally, yacon syrup may help lower the risk of colon cancer. It can also help the good bacteria inside your intestines, promoting your gut health.
Since it also contains soluble fiber, it can help prevent constipation.
3. Monk Fruit Sweetener
If you want something that doesn’t come with any calories but packs sweetness up to 250 times as sugar, monk fruit sweetener is one that you should include in your list of natural sugar substitutes. It comes from the monk fruit, which hails from Southeast Asia.
It contains glucose and fructose, which are natural sugars. However, its sweetness comes from mogrosides, which are a type of antioxidant. To process the sweetener, the manufacturers press the juice and separate the mogrosides from the monk fruit.
Thereafter, they remove the glucose and fructose from the monk fruit sweetener. When it comes to the health benefits, it offers many, considering that mogrosides are antioxidants.
For starters, it can help manage your blood sugar levels. It can also reduce inflammation in the body. Furthermore, it contains certain compounds that help slow down the growth of certain cancer cells.
The monk fruit still requires further studies to solidify its health benefits. However, things already look promising, as it is already one of the best natural sweeteners today.
If you want something with a similar sweetness as sugar, erythritol is one of your best bets. It is one of the favorite choices of people who switch to natural sweeteners but still want the taste of sugar.
The great thing about erythritol is its low caloric content. It contains only 6% of the caloric content of sugar. Furthermore, it even has fewer calories compared to xylitol (more on this later).
As you ingest erythritol, the body doesn’t have the enzymes necessary for breaking down most of it. Hence, the body absorbs most of it directly into your bloodstream. From there, you will eventually urinate it, as it retains most of its original composition.
Also, erythritol doesn’t come with the harmful effects of sugar. It will not raise your insulin or blood sugar levels in the same way that it will not spike your cholesterol and triglycerides.
This type of natural sweetener contains low caloric and carbohydrate content. It contains about 2.4 calories per gram. That’s around two-thirds of the calories you get from sugar.
You will often find it as the main sweetener of some mints, candies, and sugar-free gums. Like erythritol, xylitol is also a type of sugar alcohol. It also doesn’t raise your insulin or blood sugar levels like sugar.
It is also one of the most versatile alternatives to artificial sugar. Aside from sweetening gums and candies, you can use xylitol to sweeten your coffee and tea. You can also add it to your smoothies and fruit shakes.
When it comes to health benefits, xylitol may help reduce tooth decay and cavities. Moreover, it may help improve bone density. This is crucial in preventing osteoporosis.
6. Maple Syrup
Last but not least is maple syrup. This is a thick and sugary liquid that is popular for sweetening pancakes and baked goods. To create the syrup, you need to cook the sap of maple trees.
For its health benefits, its oligosaccharides may help manage type 1 diabetes. Some studies also indicate its potential to help prevent cancer.
Compared to other natural sweeteners, maple syrup contains high sugar. Nevertheless, it has a lower glycemic index. This means it will not raise your blood sugar as fast as regular sugar does.
Learn How to Use the Best Natural Sweeteners
By using some of the best natural sweeteners, you can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. You can also enjoy the right amount of sweetness that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you’re planning to use these natural sweeteners, you should learn how to use them properly. Check out our different articles where we share tips and recipes where you can incorporate these sweeteners.