Sunday, October 25, 2009
Who doesn't love sweets? When it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda. Since refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can spike blood sugar, which can often lead to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations. Instead, using naturally and minimally processed sweeteners can reduce cravings for sugary things.
Here are a few natural sweeteners to substitute in drinks, food and baking. You can find them in most supermarkets or natural food stores.
Raw Honey: Honey is one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. Wherever possible, choose raw honey, as it is unrefined and contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.
Agave Nectar: Agave does not stimulate insulin secretion as other sugars do, so it does not create a "sugar rush." It has a light and mild flavor.
Maple Syrup: Maple syrup adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best.
Sucanat: Sucanat is unrefined cane sugar or sugar in its most natural form. Sucanat can be used instead of brown sugar in recipes. I have also used it instead of white sugar (1:1 ratio) and had good results.