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19 Sugars & Sweeteners: Which Are Healthy?

stevia flowering plant

19. Stevia
Stevia is a natural sugar alternative that helps to regulate blood sugar and lower blood pressure. Stevia is a complex sugar extract from the plant Stevia Rebaudiana, grown originally in South America. It is an herb native to the Paraguayan Indians who used it before the colonization by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The Brazilian Journal of Medicine showed that Stevia Rebaudiana actually “increased glucose tolerance.”

Because stevia is very sweet, you only need to use a small amount and the best thing is that it virtually has no calories. Just think about it……a plant sweetening your food with virtually no calories…….how good is that?!!

Note:

  • The problem with consuming any simple carbohydrate is that it creates an insulin response that can overwork the pancreas. Over time, the body’s ability to handle all sugars, simple and complex, begins to weaken.
  • Since all sugars will cause an elevation in blood sugar, diabetics and people with dietary issues should consult their doctor about alternatives to sugar that will be healthy for them.
  • Most sugars are strongly acid-forming in the body. They all also have calories.

My Choice:

I never use the first four (white sugar, brown sugar, fructose, sugar alcohols) in my cooking.
I mostly use the last four (16-19: brown rice syrup, molasses, agave nectar, stevia).
I use all the others carefully. For most of us a little of the healthier sugars is fine and can even be good for us.

In my kitchen sugars are used sparingly. I bought a liter of maple syrup seven years ago and still have half a cup left and the only reason there is so little left is because I spilled a cup of it two years ago….in the fridge — what a mess! I bought a package of sucanat three years ago and still have a quarter of a cup left. At Christmas, I make my Fancy Fruit & Macadamia Nut Cookies (dairy- & wheat-free) and use four tablespoons of sucanat for a big recipe. When making desserts, I mostly use stevia for things like rice pudding.

As stevia is almost always in my recipes, I use less of the other “sugars.” To get the right texture and flavor a little of one of the healthier sugars is helpful and they actually add some nutrition……and of course fun.

Recipes:
Sugar Free Apple Sauce Contains absolutely NO added sugars
Berry Crumble Sweetened with minimal healthy sugars and stevia.

Related: Care2 Directory of Natural Sweeteners

Which ones do you use and why?

Read more: All recipes, Basics, Desserts, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, , , , , , , , , ,

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Diana Herrington

Diana Herrington turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free, eating and cooking. After testing and researching every possible healthy therapy on her delicate system she has developed simple, powerful principles which she shares in her recent book Eating Green and Lean, and as host to Care2 groups: Healthy Living Network and Healthy Cooking. She is the head chef at Real Food for Life, where she shares recipes and tips. Sign up for the Real Food for Life weekly newsletter or catch her on Facebook or Twitter (@DancinginLife).

163 comments

+ add your own
12:34PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

thanks

12:01PM PST on Jan 30, 2014

I use Nectresse from a plant &
Truvia - I consider both good - better than sugar.

10:30AM PST on Jan 30, 2014

I don't use much sugar, but when I do, I just go with the original.

1:54AM PDT on Aug 30, 2013

Thank you :)

6:05PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

Thank you

3:53PM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Stevia, love it - also home made juice

8:40AM PDT on Mar 16, 2013

thanks

12:23PM PDT on May 16, 2012

Thank you

3:37PM PDT on May 15, 2012

I bought Stevia concentrated. But it is not very concentrated as it takes very many drops just to sweeten your coffe as much as you would do with just a spoonfull white sugar.
But this is Denmark and Stevia has just been allowed a few months ago.

3:37PM PDT on May 15, 2012

I bought Stevia concentrated. But it is not very concentrated as it takes very many drops just to sweeten your coffe as much as you would do with just a spoonfull white sugar.
But this is Denmark and Stevia has just been allowed a few months ago.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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