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Healthy Sugar Substitutes

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healthy-sugar-substitutesThe Truth about Sugar Substitutes          

There has been a lot of talk about sugar substitutes ever since aspartame started showing up in soft drinks several decades ago. Some claim that artificial sweeteners cause cancer and myriad other health issues. While the FDA continues to claim that artificial sweeteners are safe, European studies confirm that they may have dangerous side effects. If you are worried about sugar, try these healthy sugar substitutes instead.

Sugar Substitutes List     

It's natural for humans to crave sweet foods. Our primitive ancestors were largely fruitivores, so sweetness was a sign that food was good for us. Today, an abundance of cheap sugar has made it hard to control our inner primate and her insatiable sweet tooth. If you are looking for a healthy sugar alternative, start with other natural sweeteners that aren't created in a lab.

Erythritol

Although it's name sounds chemical, erythritol is actually a natural sugar alcohol produced by breaking down and fermenting sugar cane. This sweetener is virtually calorie free and has a clean, natural taste. You can buy erythritol in a powder form in natural food and gourmet stores. Erythritol is especially good for baking because it performs well under high heat. Diabetics can use erythritol without any problems because it doesn't seem to affect blood sugar. The downside to erythritol is that it is more expensive than sugar and only about 70% as sweet, meaning you'll need more to get the same effect.

Honey

For centuries, honey was the only readily available sweetener available to many people. Although not a low-calorie food, honey can be used in moderation to replace sugar in recipes and in hot drinks. Honey is more nutritious than table sugar (boasting a long list of naturally present vitamins and tracer minerals). Honey is also nearly twice as sweet as sugar, meaning that you need far less to achieve the same levels of flavor. The natural sugars found in honey are slowly released into the blood stream, making it a better source of long-term satisfaction. Diabetics should avoid honey as it has similar effects on blood sugar and insulin levels as table sugar. Honey is also relatively high in calories, so it's not the best for dieters.

Stevia

Stevia is a naturally occurring plant native to South America. Although the FDA has not yet approved stevia as a safe "food," but many medical experts see no problem with the plant, which has been used by natives for centuries with no ill effects. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar, meaning just a little bit goes a very long way. Currently stevia can be challenging to find, but is readily available at nutritional health food stores and online. Preliminary research shows that stevia might actually help lower blood sugar, making this a natural sweetener worth watching. 

Agave Nectar

Another popular natural sugar substitute, agave nectar is derived from a spiky plant from the same family that produces tequila. With nearly as many calories per tablespoon as honey, agave is not a low calorie food, but like honey, it is sweeter than sugar, meaning you'll use less. Agave is readily available in most grocery stores, and there are a lot of tips for baking with agave nectar online. Current research suggests that agave nectar doesn't seem to affect blood sugar and insulin levels much, meaning it's a slightly better choice for diabetics than table sugar
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