Discover natural sweeteners, such as agave, stevia, xylitol and Whey Low, These alternative sweeteners are low calorie sweeteners, free from the side effects of chemical sweeteners.
With sweeteners, pay attention to the glycemic rating. The glycemic index is a way to measure how quickly the foods and drinks you consume raise your blood sugar.
Ordinary white table sugar is used as a base for the ratings. It is rated at 64. According to Nan Fuchs, PhD, anything under 55 is safe for diabetics, in reasonable quantities.
Important note: Approximately 50 percent of sugar sold in the U.S. comes from genetically modified sugar beets. If the label doesn't say "cane sugar," (from sugar cane) it is probably genetically modified.
Before reading any further,
see our medical disclaimer.
Natural Sweeteners: Agave Sweetener
The natural diabetic sweetener agave nectar is already being used in some food products, such as ketchup and frozen desserts. It has a glycemic rating of 32. Agave also contains a carbohydrate high in indigestible fiber. It feeds friendly bacteria, reduces cholesterol and blocks fat absorption in the intestines.
Agave is 25% sweeter than sugar. One tablespoon of this natural sweetener has 25 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates. It dissolves easily in hot or cold liquids and can be used for baking. Beware, however, that the Glycemic Research Institute says "Agave can be used only in very small amounts, or it affects diabetics and fat storage."
The best kind of agave, says Dr. Nan Fuchs, comes from the Agave Salmiana plant, from the Madhava company in Colorado. (800) 530-2900, or check your health food store.
Women's Health Letter, October 2008, by Nan Kathryn Fuchs, PhD
Another view: Syndicated health columnist Ann Louise Gittleman warns about agave in a July 2011 column that the heating process required to make it sweet turns it into a high fructose syrup that, despite its low-glycemic rating, can cause blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance and extra fat storage.
Natural Sweeteners: Stevia Sweetener
Stevia is widely known as an alternative sweetener. The FDA, perhaps encouraged by the companies that produce billions of dollar worth of aspartame (Nutrasweet) and sucralose (Splenda), has forbidden its use in foods. Some of those companies are hard at work altering this inexpensive natural product so it can be patented for big profits. One, called Truvia, is already available. Soon you will probably see it in food products. Natural, unpatented stevia is available at your health food store.
Stevia is extremely sweet and has zero calories, but it has one quality that some people don't like when they use it in large quantities: It has an aftertaste similar to licorice. I solve that by combining it with my other sweetener, Whey Low. For more information on stevia, do a search or go to stevia.com.
According to syndicated health columnist Ann Louise Gittleman, July 2011, Truvia is composed of stevia combined with a sugar alcohol called erythritol, which can cause bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. For your writer, other sugar alcohols, those ending in "ol," cause massive gas. Those would include xylitol, maltitol and sorbitol. I haven't tried erythritol.
An organic chemist has combined three common sugars, sucrose, lactose and fructose in a way that lowers the glycemic index (12, to table sugar's 64) and calorie count (1/4 that of table sugar) of the resulting alternative sweetener. It sounds impossible, but I can tell you this: I have used it for several years and it works for me. When I eat high glycemic sugars, they make me hungry for more. Whey Low does not do that to me, nor have I experienced any other side effects that I know of. I am glad I found it. Whey Low tastes and bakes exactly like table sugar, in the same amounts. See more at wheylow.com.
Xylitol Low Calorie Sweetener
Another alternative sweetener is xylitol, which also tastes exactly like sugar, with a calorie count of less than three calories per gram. Unfortunately for me, it seems that all the sweeteners ending in "ol" (xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol) give me gas and diarrhea, so I can't use them.
Your Web site writer (who has no medical training; check with your doctor) uses two other alternative sweeteners. Although I am not diabetic, I do have to be on a strict low-glycemic diet to maintain my weight, so I rarely choose to eat white sugar (sucrose). Instead, I use stevia sweetener and Whey Low sweetener.
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