Now that there has been such an intense backlash against artificial sweeteners like Splenda and saccharin, much attention is now being paid to sugar alternatives. The intent is to get a sweet taste from a safe and natural source. So, are sugar substitutes really better for us? The response is: it depends.
There are a lot of sugar alternatives that claim to be healthier than sugar and more natural than sugar. The problem is that many of these claims are unregulated. So, while they sound natural and safe, they can actually be more dangerous than you might think.
Brown Rice Syrup
As an illustration, most people would believe brown rice to be a healthy food. As a result, brown rice syrup would look like a healthy sweetener. This is a sensible assumption until you discover that it significantly impacts blood sugar, and a large amount of it is contaminated with high amounts of Arsenic.
Arsenic is a metal that is poisonous to human beings. It is found in the water where the rice is grown. The Arsenic becomes more concentrated when the rice is processed to make the syrup. Even if it doesn’t kill you outright, Arsenic can damage every organ in the body. So, this is one natural sugar substitute that you need to avoid.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
This natural sweetener has been used as an essential ingredient by the food industry for decades. High Fructose Corn Syrup is found on store shelves in many different forms in almost every packaged food. It is a cheap by-product of the corn industry and is more affordable than cane sugar. As the trend to eat low-fat foods arrived in the 1970s, HFCS began to be commonly used to add more flavor to foods that had their fat content cut out drastically. The result has been unparalleled levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the last 40 years in the US, which was far out of proportion to that experienced in other countries worldwide.
Here are a few other substitutes to watch out for:
- Dehydrated Cane Juice, Evaporated Cane Juice, which is sugar from the sugar cane plant.
- Dextrose, which is Sugar
- Fructose, which is Sugar
- Fruit Juice Concentrate, usually apple juice, is already very sweet, even sweeter if it is concentrated.
- Honey, a natural sweetener produced by bees but with a comparable glycemic index (GI) to sugar (55 vs. 70), significantly impacts blood sugar.
Stevia is the best bet for a natural sugar substitute with no impact on blood sugar and no calories. But buyer, be careful. First, check the label to ensure it has as few added ingredients as possible. Then see what a difference it can make to your health.
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