All Sweeteners Are Not The Same!

Sugar is not the only sweetener you have to choose from. It is a good idea to learn about your options. Watching the glycemic index of sweeteners can help you make healthy choices.  Sugars with a higher glycemic index cause major spikes in your system, increasing the risk of developing diabetes, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choosing natural sweeteners with a lower glycemic index is a better choice. So, what are your options? There are so many! Let’s talk about some of the sweeteners you could choose and the pros and cons of each of them.

CANE SUGAR

Glycemic Index: 80 (between moderate and high)
Refined Sugar

Cane sugar is made up of sucrose, which is linked to sugar spikes and increases your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes.

BROWN SUGAR

Glycemic Index: 64 (between moderate and high)
Modified Sugar
Brown sugar is standard sugar that has had some of the molasses by-product mixed back in. Therefore, it does not offer any more health benefits than cane sugar. It is best avoided if you are watching your blood glucose.

HONEy

Glycemic Index: 55 (between low and moderate)
Natural Sugar
Honey, while high in calories and carbs, offers some health benefits. The quality of the honey does have an impact on those benefits. Honey is both anti-bacterial and anti-microbial and can be used in small quantities. 

AGAVE

Glycemic Index: 10 (low)
Modified Sugar
While agave has a low glycemic index, it does still cause some issues. Agave is mostly fructose, which has been linked to conditions such as insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Additionally, it has been known to increase bad cholesterol. If agave is consumed, it should be only in moderation on a very limited basis.

STEVIA

Glycemic Index: 0 (very low)
Natural Sugar
Stevia comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is a natural sweetener and does have some anti-inflammatory benefits in your system. Also, it is extremely low on the glycemic index, offering virtually no disturbance to blood glucose levels.  However, stevia does have a bit of an aftertaste and consuming too much could increase cravings for sweets.

MONK FRUIT

Glycemic Index: 1 (very low)
Natural Sugar
Monk fruit contains zero calories, is much sweeter than sugar and has antioxidant properties. Monk fruit has a minimal glycemic index so it will not have much impact on your blood glucose levels. However, monk fruit is extremely sweet. It is best mixed with other sweeteners or used in very miniscule amounts. It is sometimes combines with stevia, offering a healthy and natural alternative to sugar.

COCONUT SUGAR

Glycemic Index: 35 (between low and moderate)
Natural Sugar
Coconut sugar is a natural alternative to sugar. It is minimally processed with just heat drying of the sap from the tree. It has health benefits in the minerals it contains, but it is high in calories and can lead to eventual breakdown of collagen, so it should only be used in moderation.

ASPARTAME

Glycemic Index: 0 (very low)
Artificial Sweetener
This is a sweetener commonly found in a multitude of diet foods. It has not been proven to help decrease weight and has been known to cause many problems however. In fact, it has been linked to lower levels of good cholesterol in your body. It also has been the culprit of side effects in many including migraines, dizziness and depression.

MAPLE SYRUP

Glycemic Index: 54 (moderate)
Natural Sugar
While this is a natural sugar and has undergone minimal processing, it has a glycemic index just a little lower than cane sugar. This means that it will have an effect on your blood sugar and should be avoided by diabetics. Maple syrup does have health benefits, however. It contains some minerals and antioxidants, and has some anti-inflammatory effects. Darker maple syrups offer more of the health benefits than the lighter ones do

SACCHARINE

Glycemic Index: 0 (very low)
Artificial Sweetener

This is the sweetener found in Sweet’n’Low. Your body doesn’t have the ability to digest saccharine, which is why it is marketed as a good choice for reducing caloric intake. However, it has a negative effect on the microbiome in your gut, leading to obesity, colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

RAW SUGAR

Glycemic Index: 65 (between moderate and high)
Natural Sugar
“Raw Cane Sugar” is often marketed as a healthy alternative to standard white sugar. However, there is no real difference. Both white and raw sugar are made up of sucrose, which is linked to sugar spikes and increases your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes.

 

XYLITOL

Glycemic Index: 12 (low)
Sugar Alcohol
With its low glycemic index, xylitol offers some benefits for people watching their blood sugar levels. However, it does have some laxative effects and has been known to cause stomach pain, loose stools and gas in high doses. It offers benefits in the form of collagen production, a reduction in bacteria, healthy bone growth and even has been known to help reduce cavities. Always start with a small dose and gradually increase it to gauge your tolerance to avoid the uncomfortable side effects. Also, please keep this away from your pets as it can be toxic to them.

 

BEET SUGAR

Glycemic Index: 55 (between low and moderate)
Refined Sugar
Some view beet sugar as a good alternative to standard cane sugar. However, there is no real health difference.  Beet sugar comes from sugar beets instead of sugar cane, so the processing is a bit different, but it is also made up of sucrose, which is linked to sugar spikes and increases your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes.

 

ERYTHRITOL

Glycemic Index: 1 (very low)
Sugar Alcohol
With its low glycemic index, erythritol offers some benefits for people watching their blood sugar levels. However, like xylitol, it does have some laxative effects and has been known to cause stomach pain, loose stools and gas in high doses. It offers benefits in the form of collagen production, a reduction in bacteria, healthy bone growth and even has been known to help reduce cavities. Always start with a small dose and gradually increase it to gauge your tolerance to avoid the uncomfortable side effects.

DATE SUGAR

Glycemic Index: 55 (between low and moderate)
Natural Sugar
Date sugar is made from dried dates. Date sugar has a moderate glycemic index, which is still a problem for blood sugar levels, but offers less calories and more vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants than white sugar. Date sugar is a little less sweet than some of the other natural sugars and sometimes will be mixed with flour so it does not clump. 

 

BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES

Glycemic Index: 55 (between low and moderate)
Sugar extract
Blackstrap molasses contains more minerals and vitamins than many sweeteners, however it is in the moderate level on the glycemic index, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and can taste bitter. 

 

5 thoughts on “16 Sweeteners You Should Know About

  1. What a great, detailed list! I’ve used Monk Fruit and was surprised at how much sweeter it was than sugar! When I make cookies, I only use half the amount and they are still delicious.

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