This is a big debate/issue these days! We all know sugar is not the best thing for our bodies (or waistlines), but all those artificial sweeteners aren’t the best for our health either! (Of course they are both fine in moderation and I still use both in my recipes, but on an every day basis I like to use something a little more natural)…So what is a good option that won’t spike your blood sugar or add unnecessary chemicals to your diet?
After much experimentation in a quest to find a natural no-calories sweetener, I found a couple of great options (mainly found at whole foods or health food stores, but many grocery stores are also starting to carry these products!) So here they are…with a little review about each one!
Stevia: This is by far the BEST natural sweetener I have found. It is derived from a stevia leaf and has been used for years in other countries. It is starting to be used more and more in things like diet soda and drinks. The best brand by far is NuStevia (found at wholefoods, or even on amazon!) You can find stevia in the form of powder, packets, or liquid stevia. They even have made flavored liquid stevia, which is great for coffee!
The pros: The brand NuStevia has no bitter after-taste and proportionally it is as close to sugar as you can get. (It is still sweeter than sugar… as are most substitutes, so you generally need less than the amount of sugar you would use.)
The cons: Well, I haven’t found any yet :)
Truvia: Truvia is made from the stevia plant and is mixed with another natural sweetner, erythritol. Erythritol is the naturally fermented sugar alcohol found in fruits such as pears and grapes.
The pros: Truvia can be found a lot easier. It is sold in most supermarkets, so you don’t have to make that trek to Whole Foods when you run out. Also, it has the texture of natural sugar…which makes it great to sprinkle on fruit.
The cons: This brand is not as sweet as stevia and it does cause GI discomfort, if used in excess.
Xylitol: This is a natural sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. You’ll find that most of your sugar-free gum has xylitol in it.
The pros: Research has found that chewing gum with xylitol in it can actually reduce the risk of cavities.
The cons: This sugar alternative unfortunately isn’t calorie free. It has 2.4 calories per gram… but hey, its better than sugar! It also does cause a bit of gastrointestinal discomfort if you use it in excess (gas/and major bloating!).
Agave Nectar: This is a natural sweetener made from the plant from which tequila is made. It has a similar texture and consistency to honey. So for those that love honey in their coffee or recipes, this is great for you.
The pros: Besides the mentioned comparison to honey, it is low on the glycemic index (won’t spike blood sugar), which makes it a great option for diabetics and for weight management.
The cons: The only downfall I have found with this is that it does add calories (about 60 calories in 1 Tbs).
So there are my reviews. There are obviously even more options that these, but I have just listed the ones that I have personally tried. Let me know if you have found something different that these that you enjoy :)