How to Choose a Sweetener

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With Canadians eating around 88 to 160 pounds of sugar a year – it’s no wonder sugar replacements have become so popular. Although sweets can be delicious, sucrose, also known as table sugar, can be calorie heavy without any added nutritional benefit.

Using sugar replacements can reduce your sugar intake and help you cut calories. However, it’s good to weigh the benefits and drawbacks from different types of sugar replacements. Artificial sweeteners may be synthesized or derived from natural substances. Choosing an artificial sweetener can be confusing – there are many different types, and many different things to consider. Almost all artificial sweeteners have some controversy regarding their side effects so it is wise idea to do some research yourself as to which ones you’re comfortable in using.

Here is a summary collection of information pertaining to different types of sugar substitutes:

Sugar Alcohols – Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, and they can also be manufactured. Though sugar alcohols do contain calories, they are much easier on your teeth. They are found in many diet products, as well as candies. Despite the name, sugar alcohols aren’t actually alcoholic.

Aspartame – A common synthetic sugar substitute which has been around since 1981. Aspartame is the sweetener in equal, as well as many sugarless and diet products. Though low calorie, aspartame does not provide any additional nutrients.

Saccharin – Saccharin is another common synthetic sweetener found in sweet and low. Saccharin has been recommended by health organizations to be avoided while pregnant. Saccharin has no additional nutritional value.

Sucralose – Derived from sucrose, Sucralose is thousands of times sweeter than sugar, thus the amount needed to sweeten is negligible in terms of calories. Sucralose can be found in Splenda, as well as other low calorie products.

Natural Sweeteners

Natural sweeteners tend to contain sugars, so most of the following tend to be similar calorie content to table sugar. However, many of the following options have better nutritional value than simple table sugar, so they are worth taking a closer look at.

Agave Nectar – Made from agave cactus and has a distinct flavour. Agave is sweeter than sugar, so less of it is needed to get that satisfying sweet taste. It’s also higher in nutrients than plain table sugar.

Honey – Contain trace nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals. Studies suggest that honey does not enter the bloodstream as fast as table sugar, thus being better if you have diabetes or are simply watching your blood sugars.

Stevia – Stevia is a sweet-tasting plant which is low in calories. Its extract is used to make Truvia. Some people prefer Stevia as it is regarded by some people as a more natural option to artificial sweeteners.

Remember – a healthy lifestyle is about eating right and finding a balance. Any diet should be rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Consider eating a piece of fruit if you want something to satisfy that sweet tooth.

The more we know, the better decisions we can make. With a little research, you can find a sweetener that suites your taste and needs.

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