Choose your sweetener wisely!

All week I’ve been talking about sweeteners. I get numerous inquiries asking about different sweeteners and just when I think I’ve talked about them all, a new one comes on the market. Although I understand some of you can’t live without them, I rarely use sweeteners. I don’t do a lot of baking anymore, and I love my tea and lemon water unsweetened. However, since I get so many emails asking me what the healthiest sweetener is to use, especially for a cup of coffee, in this post I’m going to share my favorites.

Always use ANY sweetener – and I can’t stress this enough – in moderation!

Coconut Nectar – If you’re looking for a low glycemic replacement for agave nectar, you may want to try Coconut Secret’s Coconut Nectar. It is naturally sweet and highly nutritious. It derived from the liquid sap of the coconut blossoms, and it naturally contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients (including vitamin C).

Coconut-Secret-Raw-Coconut-CrystalsOrganic Coconut Sugar – Made from  a nutrient-rich “sap” that comes from blossoms on a coconut tree. This sap is very low glycemic (GI of only 35), diabetic-friendly, is an abundant source of minerals, 17 amino acids, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. Sometimes companies boil their sap/nectar which removes some of the nutrients. A good brand is Coconut Crystals. Although there are many others on the market that I have seen which as long as you buy organic, are fine. No matter which you choose, it is still a much better choice over refined sugar and completely safe to bake with.

Organic Whole Cane Sugar (Rapadura, Turbinado or Sucanat) is produced in the initial stages of white sugar manufacturing process. They are unrefined and unbleached and therefore are coarse and dark brown in color. They contain all of the nutrients present in the original sugar cane, therefore it has the ability to nourish and satiate. Due to the raw nature of this sugar, it is absorbed much more slowly into the bloodstream. It’s perfect for baking as well as adding to your favorite beverage.

Raw Honey is another healthy sweetener choice as long as you purchase it raw, unheated, unfiltered, and unpasteurized. Raw honey has many health benefits including aiding those with arthritis, digestive issues, insomnia and has anti-aging powers. Be careful when purchasing honey  – most of the honey found in supermarkets is processed and unhealthy. When honey is heated and processed, many of its natural enzymes and nutrients, are destroyed. Processed honey is basically the refined white sugar version of honey, which makes it just as bad for us as sugar. Some brands even contain high fructose corn syrup.

Grade B Pure Maple Syrup is a natural sweetener and one you will see a lot on my recipe lists because of it’s detoxing benefits and nutritional value. Grade B pure maple syrup should not be confused with “regular” maple syrup such as Mrs. Butterworth or Aunt Jemima. Maple syrup, in it’s unrefined pure form, contains a ton of nutritional benefits. Pure maple syrup contains manganese and zinc, natural antioxidants which are good for your immune system, and helps prevent damage to the heart. Read more on the wonders of maple syrup here.

Stevia is an herbal based sweetener – meaning it’s not technically a sweetener, it’s an herb that just happens to be sweet. Stevia is not a sugar and therefore it does not affect blood sugar levels, in fact it is proven to regulate blood sugar. It is also known to help lower blood pressure as well as support the good bacteria in the stomach and aids in total cleansing and liver support. Numerous articles have recently popped up online talking I have read several of them research that has been done shows normal consumptions amounts to be safe like all other sugars or alternative sweeteners.

Stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar. With its extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, a little goes a long ways. Some complain of a bitter aftertaste and you have to acclimate your taste buds and find the ratio that is just right for you taste. You can order stevia here.

Just Like Sugar has recently been very popular in the marketplace. It is one of my all-time favorites, but like other quality sweeteners, it comes with a higher price tag. Just Like Sugar looks and tastes a lot like sugar and has a very low glycemic index. It contains chicory root which has a lot of benefits. It is composed of prebiotic fibers that have been shown to help with candida-cleansing and weight loss. Use it cup for cup in replacement of sugar in any recipe, even ice cream. It also helps increases feeling of fullness since the carbohydrates in the product are all a fiber!

Other natural sweeteners that would be healthier choices include date sugar, rice syrup and barley malt. These are always better choices than white sugar because they all contain more nutritional value. Keep in mind they still cause blood sugar to rise in the body.

Up next in “Sweet Week”:
How to Pick a Sweetener for you, your family and your healthy lifestyle

Don’t miss these Sweet Week posts: 
Sweeteners to Avoid
Sugar Alcohols – To use or not to use
Marketplace Sweeteners – Common sweeteners commonly found on the market.