Sweeteners bring joy to our lives by making our foods and drinks more delicious. Sugar isn’t inherently bad for you. After all, glucose is a primary fuel source for our cells! However, we can get into trouble if we’re consuming more sugar than our bodies can use for fuel.
Sugar and other calorie-containing sweeteners have the unfortunate side effect of raising blood sugar and potentially stalling weight loss... or even causing more weight gain. Excess sugar intake and elevated blood glucose has also been linked to increased inflammation, which is at the root of many modern ailments.
Non-caloric sweeteners play an essential part of our daily life, especially for those of us who want to reduce our calorie and sugar intake. Sweeteners are generally categorized depending on their origin and manufacturing process. Natural sweeteners are derived from plant sources, while artificial sweeteners are chemically synthesized. In this article, we will compare common sweeteners, their benefits, and possible risks.
While refined sugar is technically a natural sweetener, many people avoid it in favor of other sweeteners since sugar is typically highly refined and lacking in other nutrients. Natural sweeteners are generally considered healthier than artificial sweeteners because they are derived from plants and are less processed. They include:
Stevia is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, which is native to South America. Stevia has been used as a sweetener for centuries by the indigenous people of Paraguay and Brazil. It is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories, making it a great option for those looking to reduce their sugar intake. Stevia has also been shown to have some health benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
A study conducted on rats found that stevia could lower blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance, which is an essential factor for people with diabetes. Another study showed that stevia could lower blood pressure levels in hypertensive patients. Additionally, stevia has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Key Nutrients uses stevia extract in Electrolyte Recovery Plus as well as their other health-promoting drink mixes. It has the same sweet flavor as sugar so you can satisfy your cravings while giving your body nutrients that support energy and metabolism.
Honey has been used for thousands of years. It is made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Honey is rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. It also contains trace amounts of minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron. However, it is also high in calories, so it should be consumed in moderation. A study conducted on rats found that honey could lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Another study showed that honey could have a positive effect on the gut microbiota and improve gut health .
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that is made from the sap of maple trees. It is high in antioxidants and has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it doesn't cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Maple syrup also contains vitamins and minerals such as zinc and manganese. A study conducted on rats found that maple syrup could have a positive effect on liver health and reduce inflammation. Another study showed that maple syrup could have antibacterial properties and reduce the growth of certain bacteria.
Artificial sweeteners are chemically produced and have zero or very few calories. While they are often used as a sugar substitute, they have been associated with negative health effects for some people. Many of the studies which show negative side effects for artificial sweeteners use quantities that are prohibitively high for normal consumption, leading to potentially misleading conclusions. On the other hand, many of the studies that show artificial sweeteners are safe are also funded by the manufacturers of these compounds, so use your own judgement. Some common artificial sweeteners include:
Aspartame is a popular artificial sweetener that is used in many diet sodas and other low-calorie foods. It is made up of two amino acids, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid. Aspartame has been associated with headaches, dizziness, and other negative health effects. However, the evidence supporting these claims is not strong, and the FDA has approved aspartame as safe for human consumption.
Saccharin is another popular artificial sweetener that is often used in diet foods. It has been linked to bladder cancer in animal studies. However, the evidence linking saccharin to cancer in humans is inconclusive, and the FDA has approved saccharin as safe for humans.
Sucralose is a popular artificial sweetener that is often used in low-calorie foods and beverages. It is made by chemically modifying sucrose (table sugar) by replacing three of its atoms with chlorine atoms. Sucralose has been associated with negative health effects, such as gut microbiota disruption and increased risk of developing diabetes. The evidence supporting these claims is not strong, and the FDA has approved sucralose as safe.
Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
Ace-K is an artificial sweetener that is often used in low-calorie foods and beverages. It has been associated with negative health effects, such as disruption of gut microbiota and increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. The evidence supporting these claims is controversial, and the FDA has approved Ace-K as safe for human consumption.
This natural sweetener is plant-based, zero-calorie, and creates a powerfully sweet flavor with only a tiny amount of extract. It pairs well with many other flavors, such as fruits and baked goods, and is an ideal choice for sweetening drinks since it dissolves easily in liquids. Stevia is also safe for human consumption, with no known side effects and can help with sugar control. The FDA has approved stevia as a safe food additive, and it is widely used in various food and beverage products.
Key Nutrients chooses stevia as the sweetener in their drink mixes because it is the best balance of sweetness and health benefits. Try Electrolyte Recovery Plus for some sweet drinks that will keep you powered up while keeping blood sugar down.
Stevia for Better Health
Several studies have shown that stevia has potential health benefits. For example, a study conducted on rats found that stevia could lower blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance, which is essential for people with diabetes. Another study showed that stevia could lower blood pressure levels in hypertensive patients. Additionally, stevia has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Stevia can be used as a sugar substitute in various foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, smoothies, and baked goods. Stevia is available in various forms, including powder, liquid, and granulated form. It can also be used in combination with other natural sweeteners, such as honey and maple syrup, to enhance the sweetness of certain foods and beverages.
However, stevia also has some drawbacks. Stevia can have a bitter aftertaste, which can be unappealing to some people. Additionally, some people may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating and diarrhea, when consuming large amounts of stevia.
Natural sweeteners, such as stevia, honey, and maple syrup, are generally considered healthier than artificial sweeteners because they are derived from plants and have fewer calories. They also have potential health benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels. However, natural sweeteners should be consumed in moderation because they still contain calories.
Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and Ace-K, have zero or very few calories but have been associated with negative health effects. However, the evidence supporting these claims is not strong, and these sweeteners are approved as safe for human consumption by the FDA.
It is also important to note that while sweeteners can help reduce sugar intake, they should not be relied on as a sole solution. Consuming too many sweeteners can lead to a preference for sweet tastes, which can make it difficult to enjoy natural flavors and foods without added sweeteners.
In addition, it is important to note that people have different preferences and tolerances for sweeteners. Some people may prefer the taste of natural sweeteners, while others may prefer the taste of artificial sweeteners. It is important to find the sweetener that works best for you and your health goals.