Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sugar Alternatives: The Pros and Cons

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog admitting that I am a sugar addict. Since then I have stopped using basic white sugar in my cooking and have started to explore the alternatives. I've found there are many things out there, some, of which I feel are not much better than sugar. Dates, maple syrup and brown rice syrup for example may appear to be healthier alternatives, but all of those rate just as high, or higher, than white sugar on the GI scale. I have found five alternatives that seem to have a better health benefit, and little to no affect on your blood sugar.

1. Stevia. This gift from nature grows in South America and is naturally sweet. It promotes insulin production and enhances the body's tolerance to glucose. It is also 300x sweeter than regular sugar, so little is needed to sweeten your treats.

2. Yacon Root.  This plant is an excellent substitute for traditional sweeteners. It's a great blood sugar balancer and ideal for diabetics. It is great for colon health, creates healthy flora in the body and promotes the growth of probiotics.

 3. Agave Nectar. I've been using Agave for quite awhile and have found it to be an excellent substitute in most recipes. As it is found in syrup form, it can make some baked goods slightly more moist. I found information listing Agave rating anywhere from 15 to 30 on the GI scale. I imagine this has to do with how it is processed. This little plant has been the source of much debate recently, as to whether it's truly healthier than processed sugar. I recommend doing a little research, use in moderation, and go with your gut.

4. Honey. This one is debatable for some. Many vegans are against bee products because of some of the methods Beekeepers use. If you choose to use honey, go with a local product, and IT MUST BE RAW!!! Processed honey isn't healthy for anyone. Raw honey, however, is filled with vitamins and nutrients and can have many health benefits when used in moderation.

 5. Coconut Palm Sugar. The latest craze on the healthy alternatives to sugar market, this baby rates 35 on the GI scale. This comes from the sap of a coconut tree, contains 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, varies B-vitamins and has a nearly neutral PH. I recently purchased it from Whole Foods and plan to experiment in the next week.

 For more information on how sugar affects us, I highly recommend checking out these series of posts from blogger Sarah Wilson on why "I Quit Sugar." Great information here, really makes you think about how even "healthy" sugars are affecting our body.


  1. Thanks for all the helpful info! The only one of these I have used is Stevia and it is way too sweet for me but very helpful for diabetics since it doesn't change blood sugar.

  2. I say we go for Honey! The honey is a sweet food with amazing healing properties. It is sweeter and healthier than sugar and therefore is used to prepare a countless delicious dishes.

  3. Thank you for doing the research.I'm am trying to find the best and healthist sweetner for my family.Something to help us lose the weight and not kill us!We've tried Agava.It's not bad.Honey,I personal can't stand the flavor.Heard about coconut palm sugar on Dr.Oz and been looking forward to trying this.I never heard of the root mentioned above.Will try,of course.Stevia,I don't like the after taste.My friend told me to Truvia.It doesn't have the after taste but I understand it has a small amount of sugar.


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