Sugar - Alternative Sweeteners
We all enjoy something sweet now and again, but with so much in the scientific literature confirming the negative health effects of refined sugar, one of the very best things that we can do for ourselves, and for our loved ones, is to use better alternatives. Here are a few of our favorites:
Please be warned that you can find negative and positive articles covering almost any product today - it all depends on who the writer of the article is, and who is paying and/or employing the writer.
IMPORTANT: Diabetics should consult their nutrition-oriented physician before using any alternative sweetener.
Stevia is an aspartame-free, natural, non-caloric, sweet-tasting plant used around the world for its pleasant taste, as well as for its increasingly researched potential for inhibiting fat absorption and lowering blood pressure. This white, crystalline, hygroscopic powder is approximately 300 times sweeter than cane sugar. Today, the Japanese, who cultivate stevia extensively in their own country are ironically not as encumbered with weight problems as the rest of the world, because of their consumption of this non-caloric natural sweetener.
Stevia is, nutrient-rich, containing substantial amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorous. Paraguayans say that stevia is helpful for hypoglycemia and diabetes because it nourishes the pancreas and thereby helps to restore normal pancreatic function. Oviedo, et. al., reported a 35.2% fall in normal blood sugar levels 6-8 hours following the ingestion of stevia. The long term use of stevia would probably have a cardiotonic action, that is, would produce a mild strengthening of the heart and vascular system. In Brazil, stevia tea is officially approved for sale for the treatment of diabetes.
Through much experimentation, these people learned that stevia made a significant contribution to improve digestion, and that it improved overall gastrointestinal function. One of the most obvious indications of the safety of stevia is that there have never been any reports of side effects in over 1500 years of continuous use by Paraguayans.
Stevia is marketed in South Africa by Nature's Choice.
Otherwise known as fruit sugar, fructose tastes and looks like cane sugar, and it is about one and a third times as sweet as cane sugar. Fructose is also a refined product and, as such, it should be used with wisdom, but the beauty about fructose is that it is metabolized somewhat differently to refined cane sugar.
Unlike cane sugar, fructose does not cross over directly from the intestines into the blood stream. It is released slowly into the blood via the liver. As such, fructose does not cause wild surges in the blood sugar levels, along with the drastic secretions of insulin and adrenalin that the body triggers in order to deal with those wild surges.
Fructose, therefore, is kind to the pancreas and to the adrenal glands and, under normal circumstances, will not cause the same problems as refined sugar causes. Unlike refined sugar, which is an empty calorie (another term for nutritionally bankrupt), fructose has definite nutritional qualities.
Provided it is not used in excess, fructose is ideal for sweetening drinks, for sprinkling over fruit salads, and for baking. While fructose is more expensive than refined sugar, those who value their health have come to realise that fructose is a far better alternative - one that could prove to be far cheaper in the long run.
An imported, granulated fructose is distributed in South Africa under the Nature's Choice label.
Xylitol is a sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables and is even produced by the human body during normal carbohydrate metabolism . Xylitol is typically manufactured from birch trees or other natural xylan-rich sources.
Clinically Proven: In scientific studies over more than 30 years, dental researchers have pointed to Xylitol, as a key ingredient in the fight against tooth decay. Found in natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables, Xylitol is a familiar sweetener in sugar-free products such as chewing gum. Xylitol not only adds a pleasant taste, but also reduces the incidence of tooth decay.
It Tastes Good: Xylitol has the same sweetness and bulk as sucrose with 40% less calories and no aftertaste. In fact, Xylitol is the sweetest of all bulk sugar substitutes. Plus, it has a very pleasant cooling sensation when it dissolves in the mouth making Xylitol a great partner in applications with mint and citrus flavors.
Xylitol Is In Many Products Already: Xylitol is widely approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics in many countries around the world. Current Xylitol products include chewing gum and other confectionery, pharmaceuticals (syrups and chewable tablets), oral hygiene products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes, and dietetic and diabetic foods.
Can Anybody Use Xylitol? Xylitol is a low-glycaemic sweetener and is metabolized independently of insulin. Xylitol does not cause the sharp increase in blood sugar levels or the associated serum insulin response, which is usually seen following consumption of other carbohydrates. Thus, Xylitol can be recommended as a sugar-free sweetener suitable for diabetics as well as for the general population seeking a healthier lifestyle.
Date Syrup and Date Jam
Dates are a perfectly natural combination of sweetness, nutrition, and fiber. As such, dates present us with an ideal means of adding sweetness to puddings, to cereals, to porridges, and even to certain biscuit and cake recipes - without endangering our health. By the simple preparation of a weekly supply of date syrup and/or date jam, you will be able to enjoy peace-of-mind along with your "piece of cake."
Date Jam Recipe: Place the required amount of de-pitted dates in a glass bowl. Add sufficient water and/or freshly-squeezed orange juice to cover. Bring to just before boiling and simmer for 30 minutes. Now mash with a fork or whisk in a blender to form a jam.
Date Syrup Recipe: Prepare as for date jam, but use more liquid. Place dates and any remaining liquid into your blender and whisk into a syrup.
Try sultanas instead of dates, or a combination of the two for a variation in taste. Always store date jam and date syrup in the refrigerator.
Dates, being the natural sweet, have a thousand healthful uses. A free pamphlet is available from Nature's Choice entitled, Magic With Dates. Speak to your nearest stockist.
To sweeten cereals and porridges, or as a sweetish sauce that you can serve over salads and fruit salads, fruit cream must be the healthiest alternative - and there is no end to the variations that you can use.
Preparation: In a blender, simply whisk together the washed fruits of your choice (eg, an apple and a banana) along with a little milk or soya milk. For a more sweet end-product add a handful of sultanas or finely chopped dates before blending. For superb nutrition, add a tablespoon each of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, mixed nuts and wheat germ. This is a great and tasty way to boost the nutritional intake of your kids - and especially those kids who insist that everything must taste like ice cream.
If you prefer an all-natural product, liquidize a cup or more of sweet grapes in the blender and then add the fruits, nuts, seeds of your choice and blend again. This sauce can be served over cereal or salad, etcetera.
If you have not already done so, the reader is urged to consider sugar as a causative role of diabetes and hypoglycemia and sugar as a cause of immune dysfunction.
If you wish to read about the dangers of the artificial sweetener, Aspartame, please click here.