Leaving refined sugar can be difficult, but given how much sugar can be incredibly harmful, it is definitely worth a try.
Fortunately, plenty of sweeteners found in nature are actually good for your health.
They are low in calories, low in fructose, and taste very sweet.
Here are 5 natural sweeteners that are really healthy.
Stevia is a very popular low calorie sweetener.
Extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana.
This plant has been grown for its sweetness and medicinal purposes for centuries in South America.
Some sweet ingredients are found in stevia leaves. The main ones are steviosides and rebaudiosides A. Both are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, gram by gram.
Therefore, stevia is very sweet, but practically no calories.
Furthermore, some human-based studies suggest that stevia has health benefits, including:
- Stevia can lower high blood pressure in people with hypertension by 6-14%. However, it does not affect normal or only slightly elevated blood pressure levels (
- Stevia has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes (
Some older studies in rats show that stevia can improve insulin sensitivity, lower LDL (bad) oxidized cholesterol, and reduce plaque buildup in arteries (
More research is needed to confirm whether these effects apply to humans.
If you need to sweeten something, stevia may be your healthiest choice.
However, many people do not like the taste of stevia. The aroma depends on the brand, however, you may need to experiment to find the type of stevia you like.
Stevia is a natural, zero-calorie sweetener that can lower both blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Erythritol is another low-calorie sweetener.
It is a sugar alcohol found naturally in some fruits. However, powder erythritol available for purchase is most likely made through an industrial process.
It contains 0.24 calories per gram, or about 6% of calories in an equal amount of sugar, with 70% of sweetness.
Erythritol has many flavors like sugar, although it may have a mild taste.
Erythritol does not increase blood sugar or insulin levels or affects the levels of fats in the blood such as cholesterol or triglycerides (
Absorbably absorbed into your body by your intestines but eventually excreted by your kidneys unchanged (
Studies show that erythritol is very safe and may even be associated with some health benefits.
For example, some old studies in humans and animals have found that erythritol can improve vascular function and protect against damage caused by oxidative stress (
However, although it is often better tolerated than other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive problems, including flatulence and diarrhea, if you consume too much at the same time – especially if it is combined with other types of sugar such as fructose (
Furthermore, a study in 264 young people showed that higher blood levels of erythritol were associated with increased belly fat, which may be due to a genetic predisposition to convert sugar into erythritol (
Erythritol is a very sweet, low-calorie sugar alcohol. Studies show that it is very safe to eat and may be associated with some health benefits, although it can cause digestive problems in high doses.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol with a sweetness similar to that of sugar.
It contains 2.4 calories per gram, or about two-thirds of the calories in sugar.
Xylitol appears to have several benefits for dental health, including reducing the risk of tooth decay and tooth decay (
According to some animal studies, it can also improve bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis (
Furthermore, research shows that xylitol may increase the levels of certain compounds in the digestive tract to help support your gut microbiome (
Xylitol also does not increase blood sugar or insulin levels. However, like other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive side effects, including flatulence and diarrhea, in high doses (
Given this, it is best to use xylitol in moderation.
If you have a dog at home, keep xylitolin away from its range, as xylitol is very toxic to dogs (
Xylitol is a very popular sweetener. It is a sugar alcohol that contains about 2.4 calories per gram and has several benefits for dental and digestive health. Research in rats suggests it may improve bone density and lower the risk of osteoporosis.
Yacon syrup is another unique sweetener.
It is harvested from the jacon plant, which grows naturally in the Andes in South America.
This sweetener has recently become popular as a weight loss supplement. An older study in women with overweight and mild dyslipidemia, or abnormal blood fat levels, found that it caused significant weight loss (
Very high in fructooligosaccharides, which function as soluble fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut (
Jacon syrup can help prevent constipation and has various benefits due to the high amount of soluble fiber (
Do not eat too much at a time, although it may cause digestive problems.
Jacon syrup is very high in fructooligosaccharides, which feed the good bacteria in your gut. It can help prevent constipation and promote weight loss.
The monk fruit is a type of fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is often used to make a natural sweetener called monk fruit extract.
Calories and carbohydrates free, and some studies suggest that it may also help support better blood sugar management (
Monk fruit also contains antioxidant compounds known as mogrosides, which studies have shown can reduce inflammation markers (
Plus, other studies have found that some compounds derived from monk fruits can slow the growth of specific types of cancer cells (
Although there is limited research on the effects of monk fruit on humans, it is usually considered safe and has not been associated with any adverse side effects (
However, it is important to check the ingredient label when buying monk fruit extract, as many products combine with sugar or other sweeteners, which may negate its potential health benefits.
Monk fruit is free of carbohydrates and calories and can help better manage blood sugar. It also contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
There are some well-known sugar sweeteners that health-conscious people often eat instead of sugar, including coconut sugar, molasses, honey and maple syrup. These really do not differ much from sugar.
They may contain slightly smaller amounts of fructose and a small amount of nutrients, but your liver really won’t be able to tell the difference.
Moreover, while these natural sugar substitutes may be a better alternative to regular sugar if used in moderation, they should not be considered a quick fix to your health concerns.
In fact, consuming high amounts of natural sugars or sugar substitutes for a long time can increase cravings for sweets and can contribute to issues like weight gain and type 2 diabetes (
However, the harmful effects of sugar depend entirely on the context. Most cross-sectional studies have been conducted in people who are already eating a diet rich in carbohydrates and processed foods.
For these people, especially those who are overweight or insulin resistant, large amounts of sugar can be particularly harmful (
Moreover, some groups of people may want to completely avoid sugar-based sweeteners, such as those with overeating disorder and those on a ketogenic diet with very low carbohydrates.
Healthy people can eat sugar in small amounts without any harm. While sugar still provides calories without much nutritional value and can cause cavities, small amounts of these natural sugars can be included in a healthy, rounded diet.
However, it is better to choose nutritious whole foods, such as dark chocolate, fruit or yogurt, to fight sugar cravings whenever possible.
Although these foods contain a small amount of sugar, they are also rich in a variety of other important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.