Dear Dr. Terri K: I’m trying to cut back on sugar and I don’t want to use the artificial products on the market. What are some natural sweeteners I can use? – SUSAN, Chicago
Susan: First, congratulations for paying attention to your health. You can indulge your sweet tooth without damaging your health. However, even if they are “natural”, still use all sweeteners in moderation. Here is a short-list:
Agave Nectar. – Agave syrup is a sweetener commercially produced in Mexico. It is sweeter than honey and has a glycemic index and glycemic load lower than most other natural sweeteners on the market. This would be a good first choice.
Stevia. Stevia is derived from a South American shrub. It is not absorbed through the digestive tract, and is therefore non-caloric. It also has a negligible effect on blood glucose, and has even been shown to enhance glucose tolerance, which makes it an attractive natural sweetener for diabetics and others on carbohydrate-controlled diets.
Honey. Honey is one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. It is made from plant nectar by the honeybee and is very sweet – so use it sparingly. Raw unpasteurized honey contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. It has been shown to be effective in helping the predigestion of starchy foods.
Maple Syrup. Maple syrup is made from the boiled sap of sugar maple trees. USDA Grade B syrup has some minerals and has a stronger flavor, which makes it more suitable for flavoring and cooking purposes than USDA Grade A.
Molasses. Molasses is a thick syrup by-product from the processing of the sugar beet. It has a very distinctive taste. Organic molasses is probably the most nutritious sweetener derived from sugar cane. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Barley Malt. Barley malt is a thick, dark, slow-digesting sweetener made from sprouted barley. It has a malt-like flavor. Although the syrup metabolizes slowly in the body, it does have calories and carbohydrates. Diabetics and low-carb dieters should use it with caution.
Brown Rice Syrup. Brown rice syrup is a naturally processed sweetener, made from sprouted brown rice. It is thick and mild-flavored. Since it causes a rapid rise in blood-sugar, it is not suitable for consumption by diabetics.
Dates and raisins. Blend a handful of raisins, dates or figs with water to create a naturally delicious sweetener!
For some really natural sweetness, get outside in the sun and smile! Start Power Living® Today!
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.
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