Boy, do we love sugar. According to public health authorities, the average American ate two pounds of sugar annually two centuries ago; at this point, we’re up to almost 152 pounds per year. And that amount, 42.5 teaspoons a day, is way, way more than the 13.3 teaspoons nutritionists recommend as our upper limit. What’s more, scientists have linked our national sweet tooth to all sorts of ill health, from heart problems to diabetes to cognitive issues.
The desire to cut refined sugar consumption has led many people to consider some of the following alternative sweeteners. Remember to always check labels and sources, to go for products with the least amount of processing and to opt for organic whenever possible. Also, keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t automatically equal “calorie-free.”
This sweetener is actually a byproduct of the sugar refining process. But although it’s derived from sugar, with the same carbohydrate levels and 19 calories per teaspoon, it’s a diabetic-friendly option, due to the fact that it is digested more slowly. And blackstrap is high in vitamin B as well as iron, potassium and other minerals.
“It’s a vegan way to help with iron intake, but it has a distinct spicy flavor, so it’s hard to use in baking unless you’re making gingersnaps or something,” Vigdor-Hess says.
Kelly Walunis, kitchen manager at the Community Food Co-op in Bozeman, Montana, concurs. “It adds a rich, intense flavor,” she says. “If you’re using it for 100% sugar replacement, it’s going to overpower, so I often combine it with other sweeteners.” Walunis uses blackstrap with a coconut sugar in molasses cookies, bran muffins, pumpkin bread and applesauce; since molasses is approximately 25% less sweet than sugar, it makes sense to use this old-time favorite along with something else.
Monk Fruit Powder
Made from the extract of a small melon grown in parts of Southeast Asia, monk fruit powder is reportedly 200 times sweeter than sugar. With zero calories and carbs, and the added benefit of a number of antioxidants, it can be a sweet deal for diabetics and dieters.
“It doesn’t affect your blood sugar,” Deville says. “It helps support insulin levels and glucose stability, and it’s high in antioxidants.”
With a slightly caramelized flavor, monk fruit powder can be used for baking, although—because less is required and it has a lighter texture than sugar—bakers will have a different outcome. “You can use it in baking,” Vigdor-Hess says, “but initially I would tell people to try it in a drink, like tea or a smoothie, until they know the taste of it works for them.” And because monk fruit is a relative of the squash family, Vigdor-Hess warns those with a nightshade sensitivity to stay away from it.
This article is excerpts from Energy Times magazine Nov/Dec issue 2018.
Remember this article is for information only. Do not make any changes in your diet or lifestyle without first consulting with your preventive health care provider. We always pray for your prosperity and health, 3 John 2, blessings, Donna.