We have all used sweeteners at some point, natural or artificial, but how do we know which ones are good, bad, or let alone healthy?
Is there such a thing as a healthy sweetener? There are some surprising studies showing which ones belong to which category.
Sweeteners: The GOOD —
Extracted from the leaves of the plant Stevia Rebaudiana. It does contain sugar alcohols, such as Erythritol and can leave an aftertaste. Stevia In The Raw is derived completely from the Stevia Rebaudiana leaf extract which helps eliminate the aftertaste found in regular Stevia products.
- Can lower blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure by 6-14% but has no effect on those with normal blood pressure.
- Can lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.
- Studies have shown Stevia can improve insulin sensitivity, decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol, and decrease plaque build-up in arteries.
Sugar Alcohols –
This includes Xylitol, Sorbitol, and Hollerith, natural sweeteners made through a fermentation process of corn and sugar cane.
- They have been found to prevent cavities and dental decay.
- Helps improve bone density to prevent osteoporosis.
NOTE: Xylitol is Extremely Toxic to dogs! Never give this to them.
Raw Honey –
Even though raw honey has higher fructose levels, it does have health benefits.
- Contains abundant cancer-defending antioxidants.
- Can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
- Applying raw honey to burns can help speed healing and is a natural antiseptic on cuts and scrapes.
Maple Syrup –
Low in calories and contains more minerals than honey and may even ward off cancer and heart disease.
- Some compounds in maple syrup were found to be anti-inflammatory (which protects your heart) and exhibited cancer-fighting antioxidant properties.
- Two of the antioxidants found were later discovered to fight enzymes that lead to type 2 diabetes.
NOTE: Maple Tree Water, is the unprocessed sap which contains many of the same properties with only a fraction of the sugars. Make sure the label reads 100% maple syrup and NOT High Fructose Corn Syrup along with Natural Maple Flavoring.
Blackstrap Molasses –
This is the syrupy by-product of the process that turns sugar cane into refined white table sugar. Sugar cane juice is boiled 3 times to crystallized sugar, which first creates light-colored molasses, then a dark one, and finally, the super concentrated, nutrient-rich blackstrap molasses.
- Rich in iron, potassium, and calcium.
- Just 1 tablespoon provides more iron but fewer calories and fat than 3 ounces of red meat.
NOTE: Blackstrap molasses is still sugar and is not recommended for people with diabetes.
Sweeteners: The BAD
This also goes by the name Splenda, and its preparation involves chlorinating sucrose which chemically changes the structure of the sugar molecules by substituting 3 chlorine atoms for 3 hydroxyl groups. Chlorine is a known carcinogen. For some strange reason, the FDA approved this product.
This also goes by the names Equal and NutraSweet. Aspartame, when broken down in the body, forms formaldehyde and has been linked as a possible cause of brain tumors, birth defects, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and early onset Alzheimer’s. The FDA has made no move to regulate this toxic substance.
Agave Nectar –
Many people think this is a “healthy alternative” but it isn’t. Agave Nectar consists of 70-90% fructose, that is more than what is found in high-fructose corn syrup! Agave’s high fructose levels go directly to the liver, where the organ repackages it as blood fats called Triglycerides which increase heart disease risk. These high-fructose levels can also contribute to insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup –
This is found in bread, yogurts, ketchup and even salad dressing! High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is preferentially stored as fat in the liver and makes people resistant to Leptin (a hormone) which can actually increase your appetite. HFCS can sometimes be laced with mercury, a heavy metal linked to autism and heart disease.
NOTE: Read the Labels Carefully! Make sure the following are NOT listed as ingredients:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Saccharin or Sucralose
Being healthy takes work! The constant change and new products being put on store shelves make things very difficult sometimes. When in doubt, research, and always remember, “everything in moderation.”