sweet cooking

Lately you can hear a lot about sugar and mostly bad things. There’s opinion that it is one of worst ingredients of modern diet. Except the obvious fact that you can grow fat consuming it regularly and daily, it’s also proved that it can cause number of other health issues and serious diseases. You can read more about it in HERE.

Still sweet things are so tasty! And that makes it too hard to say definite NO to sugar in your daily life…especially when kids going into game. So I made some research to found out if there’s any other option…just to keep life healthy and sweet.

HONEY

One of first things that came to my mind was HONEY. The real stuff from the bees. For ages it was also used by women as a valuable beauty cosmetic. So how about to change all the white sugar and eat more honey instead? What I found out about it (and in big shortcut) is that:

– quality of it is most important and actually very hard to check,

-it contains about 82% of sugars from which almost half (about 40%) is fructose (not a good thing),

-trace amount of vitamins and minerals but various antioxidants,

-it’s still rises blood sugar, just little less than white sugar.

Conclusion: Though honey is better than white sugar, especially because it contains antioxidants, still it contain a lot of “bad” sugar and should be avoided by diabetics and overweighted people. So it’s not a perfect solution.

STEVIA

stevia sweet sugar option

Maybe you already heard something about it – stevia is known and used as natural sweetener by Coca-cola and Pepsi. And it obviously gaining on popularity. Stevia is a plant which came from South America and it comes with different species. One we are interested in is called Stevia rebaudiana. Some facts about it:

-it have zero calories,

-plant extract can be 200 times sweeter than the same amount of table sugar,

-it tastes a little different than original sugar, and have some bitterness,

-it can be purchased as liquid, powder or tablets,

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved crude stevia as a food additive, because of concerns about it’s possible negative health effects. Animal studies have linked HIGH amounts of stevia with, for example decreased fertility,

-not all stevia products in grocery stores are equal. Many of them contain other, not so healthy ingredients, or just have been highly processed. You should be aware of the three main categories of stevia, including green leaf stevia, stevia extracts and altered stevia (like Truvia). It’s all different!

-green leaf stevia is the least processed of the stevia types. The leaves are basically just dried and ground into powder form. This type of stevia is about 30–40 times sweeter than sugar,

-some producers extracted sweeter part from stevia leaves and separate it from it’s bitter part. It can be better sweetener than others, but true is that it have not been yet fully studied for effects.

IMPORTANT: Some stevia products like Truvia (which is labeled as stevia sweetener) contain only 1% of stevia and are highly processed. So be carefull about what kind of stevia product you buying!

There are several studies which point out benefits of high quality, “real” stevia products. There are also some studies which connects high consumption of stevia with negative health effects or pointing out that combining it with blood sugar-lowering medications can be dangerous. Lot of online articles basically point out good side of a plant (some of them probably sponsored some not). I guess it’s just not enough research yet about stevia products and it’s health benefits or negative side effects.

My opinion is that good quality stevia product is surely better than table sugar and using it wisely in reasonable amounts on daily basics for baking and cooking is ok. As long as it’s bitter side don’t bother your taste 🙂

XYLITOL

xsylitol healthy sweet sugar option

 Xylitol is a carbohydrate found and mostly obtained from the birch tree. In low concentrations it also can be found in several kinds of fruits or vegetables . It has a chemical structure that looks like a cross between a sugar and an alcohol, but it is neither. Name cames from greek: xyl[on] mean “wood” + suffix –itol, which is used to denote sugar alcohols. So probably you can call it “wood sugar alcohol” :D.  Like stevia it’s a good sweetener option. Facts:

-study on laboratory rats that compared xylitol to other artificial sweeteners found that xylitol had fewer or no side effects,

-one gram of xylitol contains 2.43 kcal, as compared to one gram of sugar, which has 3.87 kcal,

-it don’t have any “background” taste,

-xylitol doesn’t raise your blood sugar like regular sugar, and it have low glycemic index (GI) level which is 7,

-it is good for your teeth, preventing teeth decay and strengthening enamel (it’s used in some tooth pastes),

-it reduces the ear infections and fights yeasts,

-negative effects of xylitol may occur, when you consume it in excess (more than 40gm per day). They are diarrhea, bloating and nausea. Symptoms typically disappear if you reduce the amount that you are using.

-it’s toxic for some animals as dogs,

-testing of Xylitol has shown it to be safe for people, and it is approved by the FDA.

Xylitol as well as stevia can be good replacement for white sugar. You can use it for baking or cooking and it won’t change the taste of meal as stevia would do. It’s certainly more safer then stevia, especially if you’re already taking medicine to help regulate your blood sugar.

I think that both sweet options are good and you can use them as sugar replacements. If you not sure about which to choose, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor for advice 🙂

 sources: wikipedia.org , www.naturallysweet.com.au, healthline.com ,authoritynutrition.com

picture source: pixabay.com , pinterest.com