Most of us like a little something sweet. Sugar comes in many forms and overconsumption not only adds empty calories, but can affect our digestive system and metabolism. So, we try to limit our sugar, but to satisfy our sweet tooth, we turn to alternative sweetener options, some natural and some artificial. So which is better?
Good: Completely natural sugars, honey and maple syrup. These sweeteners are available with little to no processing and can be used in recipes, coffee and tea. They do a great job of satisfying that sweet craving in relatively small amounts. Organic, raw, natural sugar that is unbleached is the best form of typical sugar. The chemical structure of sugar is recognized by our body. Monk fruit is a more recently utilized sweetener in foods, and seems very safe, but is often combined with sugar or corn syrup, so check the product label. Consume these in small amounts, preferably right after a meal that contains proteins and fats.
Bad: Here is where some of the natural alternative sweeteners fall. Not because they are necessarily bad for us in small amounts, but because they carry with them possible side effects that we may not be wanting.
Erythritol – can cause digestive upset and has recent concerns with circulatory health; Stevia – can cause heartburn and also cause some hormone imbalance; Xylitol – has some positive effects on dental health and does not appear to raise insulin, but it can cause digestive issues.
Again, small amounts may help us satisfy that sweet tooth and not cause other side effects.
Ugly: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose. These are chemically derived and much research is pointing to its negative affect on our metabolic processes, actually causing more weight gain and slower metabolism. This may be in people who are consuming large portions, but there are many negative side effects to using these. Please try to avoid or severely limit these if at all possible.
A little something sweet is OK, just remember, it’s a treat, not a meal.