Published on November 15, 2016

Are natural sweeteners better for you?

Are natural sweeteners better for you?

If you're trying to cut back on refined sugar, keep this info in mind about natural sugar substitutes.

As you try to reduce or eliminate refined sugar from your diet, questions may arise about whether other natural sweeteners, such as stevia, agave nectar, maple syrup and honey, are healthier. If you have diabetes, not only do you need to know if they're better for your body, but also how they will affect your blood sugar levels.

When it comes to how healthy natural sweeteners are, it's important to understand that some natural alternative sweeteners, such as maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses and honey, are just sugar in a different form. They may contain more nutrients than the white stuff, but they affect the body in the same way.

Other sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit, have a low glycemic index so they won't have a major impact on blood sugar. They also contain few or no calories. This makes them an attractive choice for people trying to lose weight, as well as for those with diabetes or hypoglycemia. But when added to foods such as cookies and cakes, you'll still likely be eating empty calories. They also haven't been researched long enough to determine if they have any long-term negative side effects.

If you're trying to cut back on the amount of sugar in your diet but are still craving sweets, stevia and agave nectar can calm your cravings without impacting your blood sugar levels. Be aware that they may trick your body into craving more of the sweet stuff though.

In the long run, it's best to grab a piece of whole fruit when you're in the mood for something sweet. Although fruit contains natural sugar, it also contains vitamins, minerals and fiber. It takes some time to get your taste buds used to eating foods that aren't sweetened, but if you can avoid adding sweeteners to your food, it'll help you kick the sugar habit.

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