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Natural Sugar Substitutes

Life of a person should be full of sweetness, natural sweetness. Nature has offered a lot of choice for this. Sugar is a favorite and most overused substance world wide. But sugar provides calories and excess sugar consumption is related to many health problems like obesity and anxiety. It is important to satisfy the sweet tooth, but this can be done by replacing sugar with natural sugar substitutes.

Natural sugar substitutes are the ones found naturally in fruits and vegetables or derived by processing the sugar molecule itself. These include brazzein, xylitol, fructose, glycerol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, glycyrrhizin, lactitol, mabinlin, miraculin, monellin, pentadin, tagatose and thaumatin. Natural sugar substitutes or natural sweetener provides some amount of calories depending on the sweetener.
  1. Stevia with fruit ogiliosaccharides (FOS) – Stevia is a sweet herb available in powder and liquid form.
  2. Xylitol is a low glycemic sugar and can be used for baking and sweetening beverages. Like sugar, it does not cause yeast over growth or blood sugar imbalances.
  3. Single blossom honey – it is low glycemic but high in calories and carbohydrates so should be used wisely.
  4. Fructose – is a low glycemic sugar found naturally in fruits, it is required in less amounts as it is sweeter than sugar.
  5. Sucrose – is a medium glycemic sugar, should be avoided in large amounts.
Artificial sweetener or sugar substitute is calorie free but provide the sweetness of sugar. They are many times sweeter than sugar, thus a small quantity is enough to equate large quantities of sugar.
People with diabetes mellitus have difficulty in metabolizing sugar in blood. Natural or an artificial sweetener is a wise choice for them as they can enjoy the sweet taste of the food without leaving any sugar in the blood to metabolize. As artificial sweeteners provide zero calories it is used by many individuals to have control over their weight or used as a part of weight loss plan. Sugar substitutes are not fermented by the micro flora of the dental plaque and thus are non-carriogenic.

There are various studies conducted to assess the safety of artificial sweeteners due to the concerns of it being carcinogenic and causing other health problems. But all the studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are safe to use for healthy population. However people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should use aspartame with caution as they can not metabolize it. One should keep in mind that a sugar free product does not mean a caloric free product. Natural sugar substitutes can be used over sugar confidently as it has many other benefits, but should be used sensibly with restrain.
Submitted on February 24, 2009