The majority of sweeteners are far from harmless! Aspartame, Equal, sucralose, Splenda and saccharin are all linked to increased risks of kidney disease, metabolic dysfunction, diabetes and obesity. It may be tempting to use these sweeteners thinking that it can help you lose weight while still eating sweet treats, but, if you value your health, steer clear of these dietary pitfalls!
Where does this leave you when you need something sweet? Here are three natural options that will satisfy your sweet tooth and won’t negatively affect your health and cause weight gain.
Stevia is about three hundred times sweeter than sugar but without the caloric content.
Stevia reduces blood sugar and blood pressure, combats infections, and reduces the risk of diabetes. One study even found that consuming stevia was as effective as a popular oral anti diabetic drug, but with fewer side effects.
In 2012, Nutrition and Cancer highlighted a study that has connected stevia consumption to breast cancer reduction.
The journal Food Chemistry published a study out of Croatia showing that when stevia is added to natural colon cancer killing mixtures, such as blackberry leaf, antioxidant levels soar. Together, these studies show stevia’s potential as a natural cancer treatment.
Raw honey is rich in phytonutrients, and is renowned for having powerful anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Nearly all commercially-produced honey is heated to kill potentially harmful bacteria, reduce crystallization, and improve product flow. Unfortunately, this process also kills the vital, living enzymes and good bacteria which make raw honey one of the world’s oldest-known superfoods. The bacteria in raw honey serves as a prebiotic: a substance containing helpful microorganisms that aid in the process of digestion. When consumed raw, honey’s natural enzymes aid in the breakdown and assimilation of the many nutrients it contains.
Raw honey is also rich in powerful antioxidants called phenolic compounds, known to play an important role in cancer prevention. These compounds found in honey have also shown promise in reducing arterial blockages and lowering overall risks associated with cardiovascular disease.
What sets molasses apart from cane sugar, is its high nutritional value. In comparison to sugar, a 3.5 oz serving of blackstrap molasses contains more than a quarter of your daily supply of minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, B vitamins and it is also high in antioxidant content.
Being rich in minerals and vitamins, molasses plays a vital role in maintaining healthy blood and bones. This makes molasses a great alternative to non-nutritive sweeteners for pregnant or nursing women, or women who are trying to become pregnant. It also makes a great dietary supplement for anybody who is at risk of developing osteoporosis. Polyphenols, the plant compounds that imbue antioxidant properties, are abundant in molasses, and have been recognised for having anti-cancer properties in clinical studies.
These three, natural healthy alternatives to sugar prove that craving sweetness doesn’t have to promote weight gain, or lead to blood sugar imbalances.
White JW. Composition of honey. In: Crane E, editor. Honey, a comprehensive survey. London: Bee research Association and Chalfont St Peter; 1975. pp. 157–206.