Our ancient ancestors had access to a limited amount of sweet foods. Our physiology has developed over thousands of years to crave the sweet when available. Reason being? It was such a rare delicacy. Nowadays, concentrated sugar and the sweet taste is readily available at every turn. Use of natural sweeteners can be a healthy solution to this craving.
Our bodies have yet to adapt to having so much access to sugar. Taming our sweet tooth with safe natural sweeteners, in moderation, has become very important. Excess glucose and fructose consumption has lead to many health problems these days. These include, damaging increases in blood sugar, insulin, fat accumulation and in metabolic syndrome.
Some of the highly touted natural alternative sweeteners have been shown to cause more of a problem than regular table sugar. Once such example is Agave Syrup. Agave syrup is a product made by processing the sap of a cactus plant to extract the sugars into a syrup. Although a natural alternative, it also has a significant amount of fructose. Our bodies process fructose differently than glucose. When fructose is consumed in excess, it can lead to some serious long- term health concerns.
We came across a fantastic article highlighting the safest natural sweeteners available today. This list avoids the Agave problem and has some surprising additional health benefits.
Here are our 3 favorite natural sweeteners:
Processed from the leaf of the stevia plant which is native to South America. This herb derivative has no effect on blood sugar, insulin signaling and triglyceride formation. It develops most of its sweetness from glycosides called stevioside and rebaudioside. These compounds are 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose and they have the ability to withstand heat and have a long shelf life.
Studies have even shown the stevia leaf to have beneficial effects at improving cellular insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type II diabetes and high blood pressure. My favorite stevia to use personally is Sweet Leaf stevia in the liquid dropper here I like this brand because it is pure stevia, without any sugar alcohols or other sweeteners added. Most people also like the flavor better as it has less of an aftertaste.
2. Monk Fruit or Lo Han Extract:
Lo Han Extract is also called monk fruit. The monk fruit plant grows native in Southern China/Northern Thailand. Lo Han has a very low glycemic index and low sugar content. It gets the majority of its sweetness from a glycoside nutrient called mogrosides.
These mogrosides are 300 times sweeter than sugar and act as anti-oxidants that have shown abilities to inhibit cancer cell formation. This is a wonderful sweetener but it can be hard to find and expensive. I like Pure Monk Fruit from Julian Bakery because it is the only one I found without other sweeteners such as erythritol.
3. Yacon Syrup:
Yacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the Yacon plant which grows throughout the Andes mountains in South America. This plant has a long history as a powerful food that has been eaten and used for medicinal purposes in South America.
Yacon syrup is rich in prebiotic fibers (roughly 40-50%) called inulin and fructooligosacchardes (FOS) which are undigestable by the body but feed healthy gut bacteria. Yacon does contain a small amount of sugar through fructose, glucose and sucrose but the rich fiber within it makes it a very low-glycemic sweetener. The use of Yacon syrup has been shown to reduce obesity and insulin resistance.
I like Blue Lily’s organic Yacon syrup which is lower glycemic than maple syrup and a great pre-biotic for the gut.
These are the top three natural sweeteners. Interested in seeing the rest of the article? Go to circleofdocs.com