Sugar Substitutes – Worst to Best

If any of you have a subscription to Oprah’s O Magazine, you may have seen this article already.  I found it to be a great comparison between all the most commonly used sweeteners and sugar itself.

Dr. Oz says “My stance on sugar has always been the same: Eat less of it!  A 2014 study revealed that people who consumed 17-21% of their daily calories from added sugars had a 38% higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who kept added sugar consumption to around 8%.  But I get it – sometimes you just want something sweet.”

His take on the health pros and cons of the most common sugar substitutes is as follows:

(Keep in mind that sugar is 16 calories per teaspoon)

AGAVE
Agave has been hailed for being low on the glycemic index, which means it won’t cause the insulin spike and crash you’re likely to get when you consume refined white sugar.  But while that’s true, agave ca be up to 90% fructose, which has been lined to insulin resistance and higher bad cholesterol, so use it sparingly.
Calories per teaspoon: 21
Better or worse than table sugar?  Tie.  Like white sugar, agave may increase your risk for heart disease if you use a lot of it.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
The good news: Sugar substitutes are thought to be safe alternatives to the real thing.  Over the years, animal studies have suggested links between artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin and some cancers, but studies in humans haven’t replicated the same associations.  The bad news: These substances may not help you drop ponds.  In fact, one study found significant links between artificial sweetener consumption and weight gain.
Calories per teaspoon: 0
Better or worse than table sugar?  Tie.  Neither option yields health benefits, so keep consumption of artificial sweeteners to a minimum and sugar to less than 10% of daily calories.

HONEY
Whereas white sugar contains barely any nutrients, honey is a source of minerals, including potassium and calcium, and B vitamins, which help your body process energy from food.  Another perk: Research has shown that raw honey containers antioxidants and may help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, potentially decreasing overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
Calories per teaspoon: 21
Better or worse than table sugar? Better.  But opt for raw varieties.  Processed honey may lose some of its nutrients during manufacturing.

STEVIA
Sourced from the stevia plant, this sugar substitute is the best zero-calorie sweetener that’s not artificial.  It’s also about 200 times sweeter than sugar, so you can get by with less.  Bonus: Stevioside, the sweet compound in a stevia leaf, may help lower overall blood pressure; a two-year study in the journal Clinical Therapy found that stevioside significantly decreased blood pressure among subjects with mild hypertension.
Calories per teaspoon: 0
Better or worse than table sugar?  Definitely better.  Unlike sugar, stevia may come with real health benefits.

Although Stevia is the most healthy, it’s not the best tasting… so all in all, I’d say raw honey is the winner here…for the yummy factor and health benefits!  Hope this post was of some interest to you and that you learned something new πŸ™‚

xo,
Sheena

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