Wherever you look in the grocery store or restaurants, sugar and sugar substitutes are added to just about everything—it's in nut butter, condiments, kombucha, crackers, popcorn, and most everything else that comes in a package. And, preliminary animal research indicates that stevia may disrupt the balance of gut microbiota, at least in rodents. Some people will notice a bitter aftertaste when using stevia. It's fermented from the pulp of the fruit, which removes the sugars but leaves a residual sweet flavor. Most notable of these are the minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, … Stevia is derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant (from South America), and the no-calorie sweet taste comes from two primary glycosides found in the plant, stevioside and rebaudioside. Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body? HFCS is derived from corn starch (largely GMO corn) through an intensive chemical process that is anything but natural. Unfortunately, the effect on your body caused by artificial sweeteners is still the same. Stevia powder is about 45 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories and a very low GI. It’s a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. Stevia is for people who don't want to eat sugar. Research indicates that HFCS can negatively affect lipid metabolism and contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Stevia is only needed in very Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant. So let's get practical. Not many people want to live a sugar-celibate life. As our largest immune organ, messing with the gut can have a wide-reaching, negative impact on our health. Coconut sugar and date sugar are alike in a few respects. How do the alternatives like Stevia, Xylitol, and Coconut Sugar measure up? In addition to individual sensitivity issues to these chemicals, research demonstrates that artificial sweeteners can contribute to metabolic dysfunction (obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc.) She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia. Look for 100% fruit juice or concentrate products that are not laden with additional sugar or additives. This means that all the rich minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that coconuts offer don’t get wasted during processing. Although fruit contains fructose, which is still a sugar to your body, it can be better than other types since it's naturally occurring in the fruit and not processed. Aspartame, Saccharin, and Acesulfame Potassium (the three main ingredients of artificial sweeteners) are also linked to an increased risk to get cancer and other diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, and Multiple Sclerosis. While fruit and dairy provide natural sources of sugar, I’m talking about added sweeteners here. It is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet and a huge reason why so many people are overweight. And since it's sourced straight from tree sap it goes through minimal processing (often simply heating to evaporate the water) to reach its conventional form. But they don't work for everyone. While the stevia plant has many properties and therapeutic potential to help with weight management and metabolic health, there’s the flip side to consider too. Agave is often referred to as a diabetic-friendly, natural sweetener that doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. By bypassing a key regulatory step in glycolysis, fructose is rapidly taken up by the liver. They're two different kinds of healthy, so which one you want depends on what your health goals are. Stevia Extract Compared to the glycemic index of coconut sugar, stevia extract is a logical choice if you are substituting for health reasons. Otherwise, in other conventional stevia brands, which may be heavily processed, you may be exposing yourself to other chemicals added as preservatives. Though it’s a relatively new sweetener, stevia has been linked to several health benefits. Similar to sugar alcohols like xylitol, too much luo han guo can trigger stomach issues in some sensitive individuals. This type of brown sugar, known for its large, amber-colored crystals, still undergoes processing, which removes soil, natural impurities, and most nutrients from the sugarcane. Read on to learn more. So, individuals with type 2 diabetes should use it sparingly. It all depends on what kind of stevia you are buying. Sugar is an addiction that a lot of us have a problem breaking. Coconut Sugar vs. Stevia Stevia is very popular among health and fitness enthusiasts because it is often credited with an 'all-natural' tag. The reason I love it is because it’s not only delicious but However, there have been reported side effects by some users of dizziness, muscle pains, numbness, nausea, gas, and bloating after ingesting stevia and some users have also commented about detecting a bitter aftertaste using it. The flavonoids of bee pollen also pack a punch, supporting your immune system. Regardless of these beneficial traits, remember maple syrup is still full of sugar, so moderation is key. Between Truvia and coconut sugar, the latter is half as painful on the wallet. Also called coconut palm sugar, this sweetener is a better option than regular sugar (“empty” calories). All rights reserved. Since they are naturally very high in fructose it is still important to keep their intake to a moderate amount. It’s not to be confused with palm sugar , which is made from a different type of palm tree. (Photo by Michael Daugherty on Unsplash) Two alternative sugars — coconut sugar and date sugar — have been trying to catch my attention lately, cropping up in recipes purporting to be healthier, and taking over valuable shelf space at my nearby Whole Foods and health-food stores. 6. 🥥🌴 Follow me for colorful pics and delicious recipes. Along with stevia, these sugar alcohols are still decent options for people looking for natural sugar-free options and lowering their calorie intake and glycemic load. While honey is still high in sugar (so use in small amounts), it’s better than refined sugar. Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. Used for hundreds of years in Asian countries where it is harvested, this “Buddha fruit” contains beneficial antioxidants called mogrosides. If you do not have any health concerns, … It's phenolic antioxidant properties have been shown in cell models. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Straight from the honeycomb, this is one of the best natural options when you need to add a little sweetness to your life. The manufacturing process is more natural, but “less bad” is still worse than no sugar at all. Stevia does not build up in your body, lowers insulin levels and blood pressure, and … Additionally, this sweetener contains polyphenols with antioxidant properties, and some nutrients in modest amounts like zinc, potassium, and short-chain fatty acids. Full of phytochemicals, minerals (e.g. When swapping for table sugar, honey has been shown to help improve key lipids associated with metabolic disease. Hey, my name is Nicky and I love coconuts! After he called it coconut palm, that all changed. Like with anything, however, every person is very different, and for those with chronic health conditions even some of these decent sweeteners need to be avoided entirely or for a certain period of time. As you can see, when it come to the amount of carbs it contains, it is clear that coconut sugar is right up there next to white sugar and honey. Dates or date palms are sweet fruits that are completely unprocessed and can be eaten fresh or dried or pureed into a paste to add to many different recipes. Also known as rice syrup or rice malt, this sweetener is made from the combination of brown rice and enzymes. For many years, coconut sugar is regarded as a better alternative to refined sugar. What makes this a much better alternative to traditional sugar is the fact that it actually contains a good amount of essential minerals like zinc and manganese (along with some calcium, potassium, and iron) and a variety of phenolic antioxidants (at least 24 different kinds). What Research & Experts Say, I'm A Functional MD & Here's How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays. (Its glycemic index, which The good (decent), bad, and ugly of sweeteners, if you will. Commercial-scale brown rice syrups typically use enzymes from bacterial or fungal origins, instead of barley. Coconut sweeteners usually don’t contain any chemicals or additives and are minimally processed. STEVIA Derived from the s tevia rebaudiana plant common to Central and South America, this zero-calorie sweetener (pictured above) is made of sweetening compounds called steviol glycosides, including Rebaudioside-A (Reb-A), which can be 250 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose (the main component of cane sugar). Agave nectar is still high in fructose (like HFCS), and while human studies are lacking, theoretically, this fructose in high amounts over time could contribute to metabolic dysfunction like insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Coconut Sugar vs Stevia Stevia is another natural and low-calorie alternative to artificial sweeteners. and change the composition of our gut microbiota. Coconut sugar vs Sugar cane If we compare the sustainability of coconut sugar to sugar cane, it is definitely the more sustainable of the two. In a study in 12 adults, those who ate a coconut dessert made with 50% stevia and 50% sugar had 16% lower blood sugar levels after eating than those who … But some research indicates that most agave sweeteners available on the market might even be worse than plain sugar. I recommend you purchase it in its raw, unpasteurized, and unfiltered form to receive its benefits in its most natural state. Honey contains a wide range of phytochemicals, like phenolic acids and flavonoids, which have potent antioxidant properties to fight oxidative stress (involved in processes of aging and disease). Stevia Stevia is a calorie-free sweetener that is unique because it’s fully natural, unlike artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. The products tend to contain few, if any, calories, carbohydrates, and sugars, and people use them as alternatives to sugar… This all but destroys the natural health effects the agave plant offers and leaves you as a consumer with a highly refined syrup, high in fructose. Compare that number to the year 1822, when Americans ate just 45 grams in the same time period. Your body does not completely absorb these, and they end up fermenting in the large intestine, which can cause gas and bloating. – think, the same as any type of sugar. This is not an exhaustive list. Studies have shown that arsenic levels have been found to be high in organic brown rice syrup, which is used in a lot of different products from cereal and energy bars to formulas for toddlers. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has very little to no impact on blood sugar levels. The sweetness is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. These sugar substitutes are the ones to avoid. Useful for reducing calorie intake and minimizing glucose and insulin responses following a meal, monk fruit has practical health benefits. Americans eat an average of 765 grams of sugar every five days—and much of it comes from not knowing where sugar is lurking or what alternative name it's going by! It tastes sweet, but is not actually a sugar … Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert... https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-best-natural-sweeteners-and-sugar-alternatives-coconut-sugar-stevia-brown-ric, In order to save this article, you will need to, For example, a few studies show stevia's ability to impact hormones, help improve overall digestive health by increasing growth of beneficial bacteria, This Vegan Christmas "Pot Roast" Can Be Thrown Together In 10 Minutes, How A Neurologist Eats To Optimize Brain Health During The Holidays, A Neurologist On The Real Reason You Crave Comfort Food & How To Stop, How To Analyze 4 Common (But Scary) Dreams About Death & Dying, We're All Experiencing Grief: Here's How To Manage During The Holidays, Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Foods And Tips To Reduce Inflammation, 15 Signs Of A Narcissist: Traits Behaviors & More, How To Make Your Hair Grow Faster: 8 Natural Hair Growth Tips, Feng Shui For Your Bedroom: Rules For What To Bring In & Keep Out, The Top 3 Skin Care Mistakes A Derm Wants You To Stop Doing, Like, Right Now, Sooo, Is Most Gift Wrapping Recyclable? When my patients are looking to add sweetness to food I first recommend raw organic stevia, monk fruit, organic coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and dates. The sweetness is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Artificial sweeteners don’t contain any calories and are often promoted as the solution to the problems caused by high sugar intake. Over 200 studies have been done to examine the safety of stevia consumption for humans and they have found it to be safe in very high amounts. But this doesn't make coconut sugar healthier than regular table sugar These natural sweeteners are derived from the nectar inside the coconut blossoms (i.e., the coconut palm sap) of the coconut tree, not the coconut itself. Yes, regular sugar is about 6¢ per oz, but good health is priceless. With more and more people suffering from overweight, diabetes, and other related illnesses, coconut sugar can be a great alternative to the industrial sugar you are using. With any stevia product, make sure you read the ingredients label. Palm sugar vs. coconut sugar There is no difference between coconut sugar and coconut palm sugar. Polyols are the “p” in FODMAP, and some people, particularly those with IBS, require a low FODMAP dietary approach. As a functional medicine doctor, my job is not only to help make people healthy but also to provide useful recommendations for them to stay healthy. In addition to the abundance of coconut oil and shredded coconut, coconut sugar is growing in popularity.According to an article entitled “Coconut Sugar: A Healthier Alternative to Artificial Sweetener,” it’s made from the sap of the coconut tree, and because of its origins, it’s also called coconut palm sugar. Furthermore, the glycemic index for fructose is much lower than sucrose (think table sugar). The darker the maple syrup, the better, because it contains a higher amount of antioxidant activity according to studies in cell models. A zero-calorie low-glycemic sweetener that’s also natural?! This artificial sweetener is so widely used it can be shocking to learn just how many products actually contain it; even foods that you wouldn’t think need sweetening. Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar, comes from the blossoms of coconut trees. Rich in iron, this mineral is important to help fight fatigue since it’s a critical component of all red blood cells. Aside from being empty calories, HFCS and its higher proportion (higher than table sugar) of fructose is thought to be metabolized differently, and not in a good way. It sounds almost too good to be true—and it kind of is. The enzymes break down the starch, and then it is boiled down to create a syrup. It’s made from a leaf that, when used in large quantities, has a bitter taste. Stevia also has a bitter aftertaste which takes some getting used to, while coconut sugar has a taste similar to brown sugar. With any of these, moderation is still important—no more than a couple tablespoons per day is ideal. You have to be aware of what kind of monk fruit sugar you are purchasing because some commercially available options have additives, so read the labels and stick with pure monk fruit. These ingredients go by many names, even super-healthy-sounding euphemisms, so it can be hard to even recognize sugar in all its varying forms. Coconut sugar What is it? Other common names include palm sugar, coconut palm sugar, and coconut syrup. The most common culprits and whose colorful packages you often see at any restaurant or coffee bar are: I have written in the past about the link between artificial sweeteners and health problems. In addition to the high glycemic index of rice syrup, another issue is that sometimes barley enzymes are used, which contain gluten. is Director of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. 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