Life is sweet, but not when you consume toxic artificial sweeteners. Processed sugar is genetically modified and unnatural for the human body—yet people continue to consume it and use it in their cooking and baking. Since research shows that artificial sweeteners can be problematic for the gut and cause glucose intolerance, it is wise to consider the best sugar substitute for you. Getting rid of sugar can seem challenging, but it is actually quite easy to switch to natural sugars. Check out five refined-sugar alternatives: xylitol, Lakanto, stevia, D-ribose, and yacon syrup. With a few dietary modifications, you’ll be able to avoid processed sugar and improve your health.
You’ve probably heard of stevia. This zero-calorie, natural sweetener comes from the leaf of a plant and has no sugar. With just a little bit of stevia, you can sweeten food and beverages without having to worry about aggravating blood sugar issues or diabetes. Bonus: You won’t gain weight, and many brands even have delicious flavors like chocolate, vanilla or pumpkin spice. It is, however, important to pay attention to the type of stevia you use, as there are many brands that are highly processed. To enjoy stevia-sans chemicals, select an organic, full, green leaf brand. Pick one of its many forms that best suits your needs, including dried, powdered and concentrated liquid extract.
Xylitol is another natural sweetener that is safe to try if you worry about your blood sugar. It comes from birch trees and corn cobs and looks and tastes just like sugar. It is produced by the human body and is also found in fruits and vegetables. It appeals to diabetics, as it does not impact your blood sugar and insulin levels. It also has 40 percent fewer calories than sugar—not to mention its several health benefits, from moistening the skin to killing bacteria.
While both stevia and xylitol are pleasant-tasting and can be used in different ways, Lakanto is known as a versatile natural sweetener that tastes very similar to sugar. Unlike stevia and xylitol, it has a one-to-one ratio with sugar, which makes it easily measurable and perfect for baking. Lakanto contains zero calories and its natural ingredients include non-GMO erythritol and monk fruit. It also has zero glycemic index and no additives. It is a safe option for diabetics, as it will not spike your blood sugar.
D-ribose is another sugar that occurs naturally in the body and is also found in foods like grass-fed beef, sardines and pastured eggs. Despite its sweet taste, similar to maple syrup, D-ribose won’t raise your blood glucose like other sweeteners or table sugar. There is some evidence suggesting that it might even lower your blood glucose, as it causes a rapid release of insulin and a decrease in blood sugar. Another benefit is that it provides an energy boost to every cell in your body, so you can power through the day. D-ribose can be stirred into drinks or mixed in baked goods.
Yacon syrup is a sugar alternative that is extracted from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant. It reduces insulin resistance and obesity. High in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), an indigestible polysaccharide made up of fruit sugar, it acts as a prebiotic and helps with digestion. With the look and taste of molasses or caramelized sugar, it has many other health benefits, including boosting your immune system, supporting bone health. You can easily use it in smoothies, desserts, sauces and dressings.
Did you find your best sugar substitute? Hopefully, you can say goodbye to high-fructose corn syrup, processed sugar and carbs in general; say hello to better health!