With chronic disease raging out of control around the western world and big corporations using refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup to sweeten almost everything you eat in a food product purchased, many people are wondering what they can use instead as many alternatives that are being promoted are anything but healthy. There are literally thousands of health practitioners and experts globally who are putting out very clear and factual information about why refined sugar is so bad for your health but there is still some conflicting information about what a good alternative is.
As a natural health practitioner myself I have dealt with this problem with many of my clients. High sugar intake is one of the many reasons or contributing factors I see with clients suffering from chronic inflammations. There has been an obvious need to recommend a safe and effective alternative for them.
The three products I am listing below are three I have used with my clients as well as personally myself. I am going to list a little information about each, their benefits and so on. Which one you choose is up to you and your personal taste requirements.
There are a number of misconceptions and conflicting information about Stevia, as well as concerns on its after taste, usage, safety, which is understandable, since it is human nature to be inquisitive anything that is new. Using Stevia demands we change a natural habit formed in us from our early years, of adding sugar every morning to our morning cuppa, to consuming sugar in all its glorious forms of sweet treats. Fortunately, a large part of this is answered by Stevia’s pure taste which is as sweet as sugar, and this taste test coupled with the Australian Government’s approval for Stevia to be used as an authorized food ingredient, sets to rest a lot of question marks about the future of Stevia. Today, Stevia is a global alternative sweetener phenomenon, gaining approvals from doctors, dieticians, users – adults, teens even kids, which explains the growing popularity of Stevia.
*The following table is from www.naturallysweet.com.au/what-is-stevia/. This table explains and answers extremely well and these folks are a trustworthy Australian company.
|Myths and Perceptions||The Truth|
|Stevia is a plant that grows in the wild||The botanical family of Stevia is a group of plants that grow in the wild.|
|Stevia is not as sweet as sugar||Stevia is 250-450 times as sweet as sugar|
|Stevia does not taste as sweet as sugar||Now it does!
Pure Stevia is refined to perfection, leaving no after taste at all . Try it ! We challenge you that in a blind test, our Stevia from top end Wisdom USA products to our own Naturally Sweet Stevia brand will delight your taste buds, so much so, you won’t be able to tell the difference between our Stevia & your Sugar.
|Stevia does not come in an easy to use form like sugar||We offer Stevia in powder form, in sachets as well as in liquid form|
|But liquid? Is that easy to use?||Worldwide Stevia is used as a liquid & it’s just a question of getting used to. In fact, our liquid Stevia comes with a free home dropper measure to assist you in easy measurement since you only need a drop or two.|
|A drop or two? That’s all? And my coffee or tea will be as sweet?||It’s all in the mind, frankly. Your morning cup or baked cakes won’t know the difference. They will taste as good as they did with sugar!|
|Come on, adding a liquid drop or two is not the same as adding a big tbsp of granular sugar||Try it once! You will be surprised! Remember that Stevia is >250 times sweeter than sugar|
|So how am I supposed to know the usage ratios for Stevia?|
|Amount of Sugar||Equivalent amount of Stevia extract powder||Equivalent amount of liquid Stevia concentrate|
|1 teaspoon||A pinch to 1/16 teaspoon||2 to 4 drops or 1 tablet|
|1 tablespoon||1/4 teaspoon||6 to 9 drops or 3 tablets|
|1 cup||1 teaspoon||1 teaspoon|
|But what about usage? Surely there are restrictions to where I can use Stevia?||It’s as versatile as sugar, so feel free to add it to anything & everything, at any temperature. From an ice cold beverage to a piping hot muffin, Stevia is fine to use in both cases.|
|Stevia is used by zero calorie drink manufacturers – is that safe?||Yes. And because it is Zero Calories, naturally, it’s in demand by zero cal beverage manufacturers|
|Haven’t we all heard this story before? You know, artificial sweeteners and such stuff…||Hang on, nothing can be further from artificial Sweeteners than natural Stevia. All those products are artificially induced to have high sugar content. With Stevia it’s the other way round. It’s 100% natural, it’s 100% beneficial, 100% safe. So it’s wrong to put it in the Artificial Sweetener category. Stevia is a new category in itself and a proven reliable & viable substitute for sugar.|
|Let’s switch tracks! Stevia is sweet, Stevia is great, Stevia is versatile BUT is Stevia affordable to use?||Good question! The honest answer is Yes. Your usage will only be a few mls in a month at best. That’s because you won’t need more than a drop or 2 each time you use Stevia. So not only can you afford it, you can also indulge yourself by buying top quality Stevia, either our imported Wisdom USA range or our more economical in-house brand, Naturally Sweet|
|How will I know which Stevia is pure & good for me? I need the 100% guarantee of quality!||That’s a very valid point. Which is why our efforts are in creating consumer awareness for Stevia & also guiding you on where to get the best Stevia. Since Stevia is a commodity, it takes an expert eye to liaise with world manufacturers and ensure certified pure Stevia. We guarantee Purity of Quality at all times – be it in retail packs or in bulk packs. Our Wisdom range is top of the line since it is processed & refined using 100% natural water. Our Naturally Sweet range is more economical, but with no compromise to quality or purity.|
|We have talked about taste and affordability …. what about health?||You do not need to go too far to get the answer. Look at your kids and ask any dentist. As consumers of candies, chocolates, ice creams (which currently use sugar or artificia sweeteners) the risk of tooth decay is for real. And we haven’t even started talking about Obesity or Diabetes. Think of how harmful any sweetener can be to them. Now take a look at Stevia. Here is something sweet with Zero Calories! Zero Carbohydrates! Zero GI! So Stevia is safe for anyone! Stevia is non-toxic and beneficial for obesity, dental cavities, diabetes, hypo- and hyperglycemia, hypertension and a proven healthy alternative to sugars, and other synthetic sweeteners.|
|The Triple Zero Advantage of Stevia? Zero Calories! Zero Carbohydrates! Zero GI! I find that very hard to believe!||As long as we don’t add anything to Stevia, except a certified cleansing agent to refine and process it, this incredible gift of nature will be ours … forever….with all these beneficial advantages|
|Is it true that Stevia can help people with obesity?||Stevia is an exceptional aid to those trying to lose weight because it has ZERO CALORIES. 28grams of sugar contains 50 calories. By replacing the sugar with Stevia you will have a valuable aid to long-term weight control.|
|Does Stevia help people with diabetes also?||Various studies conducted give a favorable indication that Stevia can be beneficial to diabetics. Even if Stevia by itself does not lower blood sugar levels, its use may allow diabetics to consume less sugar, which would be helpful in achieving better blood sugar control.|
|Non Caloric Stevia, Non Toxic Stevia…
Doctors love Stevia, Nutritionists love Stevia, Beverage Manufacturers love Stevia. So is it right to use as an everyday product?
|It is meant for everyday usage only! It’s not meant to be used as a special supplement. It’s just that there is a lot of growing popularity of Stevia not just among the home user base, but also among society at large, including health & food specialists.|
|If Stevia is so good for us, how come it took so long for Stevia to gain acceptance as a certified food ingredient in Australia?||It takes time for anything to be tested, approved, accepted. It doesn’t happen overnight, because the governm has your best interests at heart. Also there are so many considerations & parameters: availability, affordability, health, safety. The good news is that FSANZ has now approved Stevia as a food ingredient in Australia. This is in line with a global trend wherein Stevia is finding favour in most countries, as a food ingredient, rather than as a dietary supplement.|
|Where has Stevia got regulatory approval for use?||Stevia has been approved as food additive and sweetener in many countries including Malaysia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and India.|
|Where is it finding use in these countries?||As a natural sugar substitute in carbonated drinks, fruit juices, health and sport drinks, yoghurts, desserts and jellies, snacks, candies, chocolates, pastries, noodles, rice wines, soy sauces, pickled vegetables, cookies and biscuits. The list is growing daily!|
|So in terms of numbers, what is the population of Stevia users?||Here’s something to make you smile and reassure you on the safety of Stevia:
In Japan Stevia has been used by a population of 90 million people for 35 years without a single adverse effect ever being reported or suspected.
|Is there anything that I can’t do with Stevia but can do with sugar?||Stevia, like Xylitol, does not caramelise as sugar does. Stevia also does not brown or crystalise as sugar does|
|Is it a fact that Stevia has a lot of additional beneficial properties?||That is also true and well documented and researched by leading scientists from all over the world. In fact, if you look at health benefits of Stevia, here’s what you may know by now:
Here’s what you may have read (all true):
Here’s some more facts which are true, but not so well known about Stevia:
* The following is again from www.naturallysweet.com.au/what-is-xylitol/. It provides a great background about xylitol for the average person to understand. Also my preferred place to purchase from for the same reasons as above!
Xylitol is a natural substance found in fibrous vegetables and fruit, as well as in corn cobs and various hardwood trees like birch. It is a natural, intermediate product which regularly occurs in the glucose metabolism of humans and animals, as well as in the metabolism of several plants and micro-organisms. Xylitol is produced naturally in our bodies; in fact, we make up to 15 grams daily during normal metabolism. Whilst xylitol sounds like a chemical, it is not. Its original name came from Finland and has produced confusion in many non-European minds.
After World War II, Finland was suffering from an acute sugar shortage. With no domestic supply of sugar, the Finns searched for an alternative. It was then that the Finnish scientists rediscovered xylitol, a low-calorie sugar made from birch bark. It had, in fact, been known to the world since it was first produced in 1891.
Only then did xylitol became recognized as a viable alternative sweetener in foods. It was also during this time that researchers discovered xylitol’s remarkable nature (including it’s insulin-independent capabilities – it metabolizes in the body without using insulin – and its anti-bacterial properties.)
By the 1960s, xylitol was being used in Germany, Switzerland, the Soviet Union, and Japan as a preferred sweetener in diabetic diets and as an energy source for infusion therapy in patients with impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Since then, many other countries, have been using xylitol for use in their domestic market as a natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners – and with remarkable overall benefits.
Whilst known in many overseas counties, it has been until recently relatively unknown in Australia, primarily because cheap supplies of cane sugar have made the more expensive xylitol less economically viable. However, with the mounting evidence about issues associated with refined sugar, the increasing level of obesity and the well-recorded issues associated with artificial sweeteners, xylitol has emerged as a real alternative.
Western cultures have a big craving for sugar, which has created immense problems for our society. Never in human history have people consumed so much sugar.
Xylitol looks, feels, and tastes exactly like sugar. Although that is where the similarities end! Xylitol is really sugar’s mirror image. While sugar wreaks havoc on the body, xylitol heals and repairs. It also builds immunity. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar which means that it is anti-microbial, preventing the growth of bacteria. While sugar is acid-forming, xylitol is alkaline enhancing. All other forms of sugar are sic-carbon sugars which feed dangerous bacteria and fungi.
In its crystalline form, it can replace sugar in cooking, baking, or as a sweetener for beverages. It is also included as an ingredient in chewing gum, mints and used in other products such as nasal and mouth washes because of it inhibits bacteria. Unlike many artificial sweeteners, it leaves no unpleasant aftertaste. It also reduces sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
It is a chemical-free, natural alternative to sugar and to artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame.
Use in dietary foods
From a dietary perspective, it contains 40% fewer calories and 75% less carbohydrates than refined sugar.
Xylitol has been shown in numerous clinical studies to be very slowly metabolized. The Glycaemic Index measures how quickly foods enter the bloodstream. Sugar has a 100 GI and xylitol has only 7. The lower the GI the better.
This makes it the perfect sweetener for those who are on controlled diets as well as people who are looking for a suitable alternative to what they currently are offered. Along with significantly cutting down on sugar and carbohydrate cravings, xylitol causes none of the abrupt rises and falls of insulin that occur with consumption of sugar.It is beneficial to both adults & children. Over 1,500 scientific studies have found that the more you use xylitol, the more you can eliminate sugar cravings, reduce insulin levels, and alkalize your body.
Because it tastes eactly like sugar, kids love it but it does not produce the same reaction that sugar does.
Xylitol has been successfully used overseas for dental prevention
Despite the improvements achieved through the use of fluoride, cavities incidence is still widespread and cause for concern in many countries. Decreasing sugar intake and finding practical means of combating its detrimental effects remains a priority in controlling the incidence of cavities.
When there is an excess of sugar in the diet, this weakens the immune system and creates an acidic environment; thus oral health suffers.
Xylitol is a dentist’s dream. It reverses all these destructive effects of sugar on oral health. Xylitol creates an alkaline environment which is inhospitable to the destructive bacteria.
Xylitol has been recommended by a number of dental associations worldwide through endorsement of sugar-free confectionery products in which xylitol constitutes at least 50% of the total sweetener.
For those people who are interested in the technicalities, it is recommended that you read a recently published paper in the British Dental Journal entitled “Xylitol and caries prevention – is it a magic bullet?”
Is it OK to use?
Xylitol has been around for over 100 years. The safety of xylitol has been proven in long-term clinical studies and has been confirmed by all the major regulatory bodies worldwide. It is, for example, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and in Australia by Food Standards Australia & New Zealand.
In addition, xylitol has been evaluated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organisation (WHO) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the EU Scientific Committee for Food (SCF).
JECFA allocated an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for xylitol of “Not Specified”, which represents the safest category into which JECFA can allocate a food additive.
Xylitol is currently approved in over 50 countries worldwide.
Xylitol has no known toxic levels. Nevertheless, as with other polyols, large quantities may have a laxative effect. The amount tolerated varies with individual susceptibility and body weight. Most adults can tolerate at least 40g per day – which equates to some 10-12 teaspoons of sugar per day!
Patrick Holford is a leading light in new approaches to health and nutrition. He is widely regarded as Britain’s best-selling author and leading spokesman on nutrition, food, environmental and health issues. Read what he has to say about xylitol here.
Coconut Palm Sugar
A more recent addition to the alternative sweeteners I use is Coconut Palm Sugar, in fact this would be my favourite!. This stuff has some truly amazing benefits. Palm sugar is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic crystalline sweetener that looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar, but it’s completely natural and unrefined. It’s acquired from the flowers growing high on coconut trees, which are opened to collect their liquid flower nectar. This nectar is then air-dried to form a crystalline sugar that’s naturally brown in color and naturally rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. t is never refined or bleached like white sugar. So the nutrients it was made with are still there. That’s rare for sweeteners, most of which are highly refined. Even stevia is highly refined in its white powder form (real stevia is a green herb).
Coconut palm sugar is naturally low on the Glycemic Index (GI), which has benefits for weight control and improving glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). Coconut Palm Sugar is rated at a GI-35. By comparison, most commercial agave syrups are GI-42, honeys are GI-55 and cane sugars are GI-68.
Coconut sugar produces a slow energy release, which sustains the human body through your daily activities without regular sugar “highs” and “lows”. The major component of coconut palm sugar is sucrose (70-79%) followed by glucose and fructose (3-9%) each. Minor variations will occur, due to differences in primary processing, raw material source, tree age and variety of coconut.
* Please note that some palm sugar on the market is also mixed with cane sugar and other malt-based ingredients so check that the product you are going to purchase is 100% coconut nectar from Coco Nucifera.