Have a sweet tooth? You’re not alone! Research shows that the average American consumes about 20 teaspoons of sugar per day. And even if you aren’t consuming soda and ice cream on a daily basis, this sneaky additive is hiding in many of your favorite foods.
Granola bars, juices, and crackers all contain their fair share of added sugars, which is bad news for your health. Refined sugar is inflammatory, high in calories, and contains no nutrients. Worst of all? It’s linked to several diseases, such as heart disease, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes.
In an effort to pump the brakes on sugar consumption, Americans are making the switch to sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners. But what are they made of? And are they safe?
Keep reading to learn which artificial sweeteners you should stay away from, and which ones are a healthy alternative to table sugar.
What are artifical sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. They can be found in a variety of soft drinks, candy, and “sugar-free” foods and beverages.
At restaurants, artificial sweeteners are the colored packets that sit on top of the table. They’re much sweeter than regular sugar, and contain almost no calories or carbohydrates. Because of this, artificial sweeteners have been used to help weight control and diabetes.
But the contents of these sweeteners are a lot less wholesome than you’d think. Here’s what’s inside the five most popular artificial sweeteners:
- Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
- Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- D-Tagatose (Sugaree)
- Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low)
According to multiple animal studies, food additives such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose can cause weight gain, brain tumors, bladder cancer, and other negative side effects. Not only do they continue to be studied for links to cancer, but researchers believe that those who consume artificial sweeteners regularly tend to develop an addiction to them.
3 natural sweeteners: a healthier alternative
When choosing natural sweeteners we prefer to go with real, organic ingredients, because in nature sweet equals extra nutritious! Here's 3 of our favourites to use in any recipe.
1. Medjool Dates
Wanna date? Medjool dates are a naturally sweet fruit loaded with fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and antioxidants. They’re soft, chewy, and have a rich caramel taste. And unlike white refined sugar, your body can break them down without spiking blood sugar levels.
There are a ton of ways to use medjool dates in place of sugar. Try them in baked goods, snack bites, and smoothies!
2. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes! Replacing white sugar with maple syrup is a great way to add flavor, sweetness, and texture to your foods and drinks. Plus, it contains essential minerals such as copper, calcium, and potassium. Add it to lattes, baked goods, or homemade dressings for natural sweetness.
Helpful tip: Use maple syrup at a 1 to ⅔ ratio to replace sugar, and reduce the added liquids by ¼ to maintain the correct consistency.
3. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is made from the nectar of coconut blossoms, not actual coconuts. And because of its mild caramel flavor, it makes a great brown sugar substitute. This alternative sweetener is low on the glycemic index, which makes it a healthier option to regular cane sugar. Try coconut sugar in your favorite desserts and baked goods! Click here for delicious, healthy recipes!