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Sugar and Sugar Substitutes:
What is good and bad about each. As you can see from the rest of this website I am very much into natural health and nutrition. It is important as it really can keep us away from the doctor’s office. The average American diet is so full of chemicals in many forms: preservatives, artificial colors, sugars, fillers and the medications that we are told over and over again that we have to take: these things are causing us to get sick. I don’t know if you have seen the latest information on diseases but most of them find their roots in inflammation
in our bodies. Where is that coming from… Chemicals that our bodies are being required to digest that it wasn’t created to digest.
Dangerous sugar and sugar substitutes:
This is important. Many sugar and sugar substitutes, especially the zero calorie ones (but not all) can be down right dangerous. Aspartame, why the FDA allows that on this market at all is beyond me. It breaks down to formaldehyde in our bodies and is poisonous and a huge contributor to inflammation. Sucralose is chemically derived as is Saccharin. If it is chemically derived or artificially produced I won’t touch it. It is not healthy for you. Especially with a little bit of research you can find healthy sugar and sugar substitutes.
So what about sugar and sugar substitutes?
White sugar has no nutrition of it’s own so it takes nutrients from our bodies to digest it. Now almost all sugars even natural ones are addictive. Our body wants more once it has had some, that is why when we have a cookie we want another one. There are a few sugar and sugar substitutes that are not addictive and I will go over some of them as I finish this blog. I use either honey, blue agave, maple syrup or a turbinado sugar (least processed sugar) it can also be called Demerara sugar and stevia for most of my baking. Except for stevia these forms of sugar can still give you the ups and downs of sugar and they can still rot your teeth, but at least they are not taking valuable vitamins from your body to digest them. I am planning on trying some of the ones listed below in the next few weeks.
Sugar and sugar substitutes that are good for diabetics.
Some of the sugar alcohols like Xylitol, Erythritol, and Sorbitol can be used by diabetics as well as those just wishing to lose some weight. These sugar and sugar substitutes digest much slower than regular sugars and therefore they do not send the blood sugar levels sky rocketing one way or the other as with regular sweeteners. The sugar alcohols don’t allow bacteria to attack them so they don’t rot the teeth as normal sugars do either.
The other thing I found is that with these 3 sugars they pretty much are a 1 for 1 match when you are baking. One cup of sugar equals 1 cup of any of the sugar alcohols (yes they are in powder form). Each of these 3 sugar and sugar substitutes is slightly different in their chemical make up as well as the way they digest in our body, therefore they will suit different individuals in different ways. I know of people that have a really tough time with sugar alcohols at all, it just doesn’t agree with them.
One of the problems with sugar alcohols is that they can act as a laxative. If you have IBS I would stay away from them or at least be aware and be careful. If you want to bake with these sugars or use them on a regular basis that way, just beware and know how much you can or cannot eat with out having a problem.
Especially Sorbitol as it is the worst or best laxative depending on how you want to look at it. Sorbitol is found in fruits with the hard seeds in them. As I mentioned above the sugar alcohols are good for your teeth I didn’t see any information saying that Sorbitol was good for your teeth but because it is a sugar alcohol, it would make sense to me that it would be good for your teeth. Sorbitol has no calories as far as the US is concerned, if the calories are so low that it isn’t worth being mentioned the US says 0 calories.
Xylitol is found in fibers of fruits, vegetables, corn husk and the like. Xylitol is not as bad as sorbitol when it comes to the laxative effect but can still cause some problems. Xylitol is the best as far as really being good for your teeth, it basically starves the bacteria so that it cannot attack your teeth and cause cavities. Xylitol has no after taste and has about half the calories that sugar does. Tests are being done to see if Xylitol can help prevent osteoporosis. It is also being tested for being able to help to prevent ear aches buy chewing Xylitol gum. Part of the reason they are finding that it helps is the movement of the jaws while chewing gum but also because Xylitol starves bacteria they are suspecting that is also what is helping.
Erythritol occurs naturally in some fruits and and fermented foods. Erythritol also has the least laxative effect as it digests in the small intestines not the large intestines, therefore not having quite the same effect as the other 2 sugar and sugar substitutes. Like Sorbitol, Erythritol has no calories as far as the US is concerned. Erythritol can have a cooling taste sort of like a mint if it is not mixed in water first but just mixed with fats. Often times Erythritol is mixed with other sweeteners like stevia to add bulk and counter act the cooling effect of the sweetener.
One more sugar and sugar substitutes to talk about.
Stevia, this is my favorite. It is no calorie is can actually improve blood sugar levels in a diabetic. It is healthy, safe, non-carcinogenic and very sweet. Some where around 300 times as sweet as sugar. As I have not used these other sweeteners that I listed above yet I have been taking and cutting my sugar amounts in my pies to half and adding stevia in the correct amount instead of the rest of the sugar. Your conversion rate for most powder versions or liquid versions of stevia is 1 teaspoon stevia to 1 cup of sugar. I take and mix my stevia into my sugar as it gives better distribution of the sweetness in the pie. No one would ever know the difference if I didn’t tell them.
If you take a glass of water with lemon and add about 4 drops of liquid stevia to it you will have a pretty good tasting lemonade. Stevia has a tendency to enhance flavors that it is mixed with. There is a stevia called Stevia in the Raw that actually adds buld to powdered stevia to make the sugar/steva ratio equal, i.e. 1 cup stevia to 1 cup sugar. I don’t have a problem with the way they do this as it is an all natural process. It makes it a bit easier to replace sugar in baking.
One last thing about stevia is that it does not promote tooth decay. They are all great sweeteners and you can click below to get the best buys on them. By changing your sugar habits you can really help yourself to get healthier as you find your replacements for sugar and sugar substitutes!