One of the most important steps to take when looking to lead a healthy lifestyle is controlling one’s sugar intake. A low to zero daily consumption of simple sugars is essential to losing weight and maintaining a healthy body. However, as anyone who has a sweet tooth will tell you, going cold turkey on sugar can be as difficult as quitting cigarettes. Luckily there are alternatives. You can still get the familiar sweet taste of your coffee, tea or desserts by switching to natural sweeteners.
Stevia is as natural as they come. This sweetener is made from “Stevia rebaudiana”. It has a complex cocktail of compounds that are contained within the plant, which work in synchrony with your body to deliver not only a pleasant sweet taste but also several health benefits. Stevia has been used in Paraguay and Japan for decades.
There are records of Guarani people using stevia for as far back as 1500 years ago. Nowadays the FDA has banned stevia from being used as a sweetener under the pretense that more testing needs to be done. As a result stevia can only be sold under the supplement section in supermarkets. Because the plant itself cannot be patented, several variants of the stevia sweetener exist on the market. The major difference between them is the mode of preparation which the company uses. Some of the lower grade products might leave a metallic aftertaste in your mouth which comes from the stem and roots of the plant.
The best stevia products are the ones that process only the leafs, but also separate out the leaf veins. With its hundreds of years history stevia is probably the healthiest sugar substitute out there.
You can purchase organic Stevia [HERE]
2. Truvia (made from Stevia)
Picture credit: truvia.fr
Truvia is another great zero-calorie sweetener commonly used as an alternative to sugar. Since its market debut in 2008 it has climbed up to second place of USA’s best-selling sugar substitutes. Although it is derived from stevia, it is FDA approved, because it does not contain all of the compounds that are present in the stevia plant. Truvia has several active ingredients, amongst which rebaudioside A, the main actor responsible for the sweet taste of stevia.
Adding this sweetener to your tea, coffee or baked goods and eliminating table sugar will have several beneficial effects on your body. Truvia is a great aid to weight loss as it will appease those nasty sugar cravings and you gain 0 calories for it! Not only that, but with regular use it will stabilize your blood glucose levels and you will be getting cravings less and less frequently. The best part is you won’t even notice the difference.
The results of one study show that the combination of active ingredients in this Stevia based sweetener has been very carefully chosen to resemble the natural taste that one would receive from sugar. To conclude, Truvia is one of the best table-top sweeteners out there!
You can purchase the zero-calorie sugar alternative Truvia [HERE]
3. Yacon syrup
If you are not a big fan of tablets then Yacon syrup might be the sweetener for you. It’s a viscous liquid made from yacon that tastes of caramel or molasses. Not only is it a great substitute to sugar for a person planning to lose weight, but it also has numerous health benefits.
The biggest surprise about yacon syrup is that it is actually rich in fiber. This fact is very important and worth consideration especially from people who have trouble with indigestion or irregular bowel movements. Daily intake of fiber is often overlooked when planning your diet and this health-friendly sweetener is a great way to integrate it into your lifestyle.
It is even suitable for people with diabetes as it helps lower the blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Another great benefit to yacon syrup is that its natural ingredients help to increase bone density. This can be of particular interest to the elderly, as bones get more fragile with increasing age. Also, whoever has recently sustained a bone fracture can use this boost to skeletal strength. The list of fringe benefits goes on and on, but you should definitely try this sweetener out and experience it for yourselves.
You can purchase Yacon syrup [HERE]
Picture credit: bbcgoodfood.com
Xylitol actually has many applications beyond being a natural sweetener. Dentists often recommend its use for fighting tooth decay and cavities. It has been shown that a daily consumption of xylitol reduces the bacterial population within your mouth. To quote a study conducted in china: “Xylitol can effectively inhibit the growth, adhesion, and acid production of A. viscosus, protecting teeth from cariogenic bacteria and preventing caries to a certain extent.” Some studies even go as far as to show that it helps repair damage to the enamel. No wonder it has been endorsed by six national dental associations!
The health-friendly benefits of Xylitol do not stop there. It is under consideration to be added in ear, nose, throat (ENT) practices. This compound does not have innate antibacterial properties, but rather it enhances the body’s own natural immune system. This health-safe sugar substitute is also found naturally in some fruits: plums, strawberries and raspberries to name a few. Whether you add it to your food, use a nasal spray containing Xylitol or get some from your diet, Xylitol will provide an invaluable boost to your health.
You can purchase Xylotol [HERE]
5. Raw Organic Honey
Raw organic honey is a natural sugar substitute which has become very elusive in the last couple of decades. Sadly, some suppliers nowadays dilute the natural honey with sugar syrup or heat-treat it with temperatures up to 70°C (158 °F). This reduces the amount of the natural elements contained within. Many vitamins and enzymes get degraded at higher temperatures which results into a lower quality product.
The honeybees extract the nectar of flowers and turn it into a viscous liquid while preserving all the properties of the original source. This translates into raw organic honey with many beneficial components such as antioxidants, enzymes like amylase, which help in the digestion process of starchy foods and yeast cells, which provide a healthy dose of Vitamin B.
The reason why raw honey is not so widespread is that it is not as visually appealing as its commercially available counterpart. Processed honey is a clear liquid which does not contain any flecks, whereas honey from the bee farm would have fine crystals, contain particles of bee pollen and generally look cloudier. However, the health benefits of organic honey should not be ignored. Whether you spread it on bread or dissolve it in your tea, everybody should have a jar of this chemical-free sweetener in their homes.
You can purchase unprocessed organic honey [HERE]
Nowadays society has progressed to the point where we have an abundance of choices for every small decision we have to take in our lives. We really have no excuse to not lead a healthy life anymore. If you feel overwhelmed by the options, do not give in to paralysis by analysis. Just choose whatever you think will be the best for your lifestyle and stay healthy!
Featured image credit: gourmandelle.com