TO SWEETEN OR NOT TO SWEETEN… THAT IS THE QUESTION?
I don’t know about you, but I have to have something sweet even if it’s a glass of iced tea with lemon and Stevia- which is my sweetener of choice. I’m sure most of us have read about all the dangers of using artificial sweeteners. Since for many years Diet Coke was my personal “nectar of the Gods” it was a little hard to come to terms with the fact that it can also be used to clean rust off engine parts! I also read a study was done by Yale University that finds combining Splenda with carbohydrates-such as having a diet soda and a sandwich or eating food that combines the two —can raise glucose enough to cause diabetes.
There are also many studies that show sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin light up the same pleasure center in the brain as sugar, keeping us dependent on them. Artificial sweeteners contain zero calories but still create sugar cravings. They can also cause headaches, GI issues, and weight gain! Seriously… where is the justice in that? But, having said all that, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Here are two natural sweeteners that not only dodge the downsides but improve your health.
- Stevia, which is my favorite, comes in granular form or in drops. I usually use the “Truvia” brand but there are many other brands that are good as well. It has been shown to actually improve blood sugar levels. Which could make it a good sweetener for diabetics? A little goes a long way. Stevia is a lot sweeter than sugar so it’s best to start by using a little rather than adding more to taste. You can also cook with Stevia. Do I see sugar-free, low-carb ice cream in my future?
- Monk fruit is another good sweetener that has also been shown to have health benefits. Studies have shown that it can help lower cholesterol by helping to lower inflammation. Researchers at Vanderbilt University report that Monk fruit raises good cholesterol. It’s easily available in supermarkets and great for baking because it’s a one-to-one swap for sugar.
We would love to hear any tips you may have for healthy sweetener alternatives. Personally, I need all the help I can get in the alternative sweetness department.