Sugar Free Substitutes – Are they healthy?

Many people use a sugar substitute because effective marketing makes us believe that they wont make you gain weight and are better for your health. Sadly, that is a myth. The no-sugar, no-calorie options presented are sometimes just as bad!

  •  Equal & NutraSweet – both of these sweeteners are made from aspartame which is a combination of chemicals called phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. Upon digestion aspartame breaks down into amino acids and a substance called methanol (AKA wood alcohol). Wood alcohol is poison. Aspartame has been know to cause such side effects as palpitations, rashes, fatigue, headaches, vision problems, vertigo, irritability and mood disturbances to name a few. It can also aggravate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue, Parkinson’s and diabetes.
  • Sugar Twin & Sweet & Low – both contain Saccharin which comes from a chemical called O-toluene sulfonamide I have always referred to saccharin as “the sweetener my grandmother used.” After a Canadian study in the 1970’s that showed saccharin given to rats in high doses caused cancer, Saccharin was banned from being used in Canada. The US decided to put a warning label on anything that contained saccharin but still sold it to the public.
  • Splenda – contains Sucralose and while more studies need to be done some research involving rats, mice and rabbits conclude that sucralose can cause a shrinkage of the thymus, enlarged live and kidneys and decreased red cell count and fetal body weight.

Since almost everyone likes something sweet from time to time, its unrealistic to think we will abstain from sugar completely. Here are some alternatives you can use in moderation that are delicious and have nutritional value:

  • Xylitol – produced in the body and naturally occurring in many plants, it has a low glycemic index making it a better option for diabetics. It helps inhibit growth of bacteria and helps prevent ear infections in children and helps maintain healthy teeth. Great for baking.
  • Blackstrap Molasses – made from sugar cane that is boiled down and is rich in nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
  • Stevia – Much sweeter than sugar, this herb has a slight licorice taste. It is also good for diabetics as it does not appear to raise blood glucose levels.
  • Raw Honey – In addition to being a sweetener, in its natural form raw honey has other health benefits such as a natural antibiotic, antioxidant, provides energy to the body and is good for burns.
  •  Maple Syrup- this comes for the sap of the maple tree. It is good fro the immune system and a source of manganese and zinc.

Keep in mind that even though these are better options they should be used sparingly as using too much of any form of sugar can have detrimental health consequences.

Yours in health,
Maria

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