Sugar 411

What's Your Sweetener Style

With all the sweetener options out there, it can get pretty confusing. One day, honey’s the bee’s knees and then the next, agave nectar’s all the rage. But which sweeteners are really right for you and your goals? Which are the healthiest sweeteners?

Over the last several years, we have researched alternative sweeteners to see which work best and which are mostly hype. Use our findings to help you navigate the sweetener aisle and “SHIFT” to the healthiest option for you.

Taste for yourself how good sugar-free can be. Check out our delicious recipes!

 


The Sugar 411: Sweeteners

0
Glycemic Index
Monk Fruit
A round green melon-like fruit that is 500 times sweeter than sugar. Rich in anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory benefits. May have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties as well.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Up!
No blood sugar crashes though it may be difficult to find. Look online and always go for organic sources.
0
Glycemic Index
Stevia
An herb that is 300 times sweeter than sugar found primarily in China and South America. Stevia has no calories, actually lowers blood sugar level and has no negative side effects.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Up!
No blood sugar impact, can have bitter aftertaste (stick with pure, organic, liquid form to avoid this).
0
Glycemic Index
Artificial Sweeteners
They go by names like Splenda, NutriSweet, Sweet & Lo and are made in a lab. Have been linked with more health issues than can be listed in a space like this.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Down!
Avoid at all costs! If the choice is between one of these sweeteners and sugar, take the sugar - or better yet - pass on both.
1
Glycemic Index
Erythritol
A sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. Fewer digestive issues than Xylitol and no affect on blood sugar.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Up!
Definitely a good sweetener option. Watch out for brand name knock-offs, though.
7
Glycemic Index
Xylitol
A naturally occurring sugar alcohol derived from birch trees. As with other sugar alcohols, excess consumption can result in gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, flatulence and diarrhea.

Bottom Line: So-So.
With other sweetener alternatives out there, why risk the embarrassment?
15
Glycemic Index
Agave Nectar
A sweet syrup made from the Blue Agave Plant. Seen as the savior sweetener, now shown to elevate triglycerides, increase risk of heart disease, and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.

Bottom Line: So-So.
Better option than straight-up sugar but you can do better.
29-35
Glycemic Index
Dried Fruit
Fruit from which the water has been removed. Used in many raw vegan snacks for sweetness and it’s binding properties.

Bottom Line: So-So.
Should be eaten in moderation due to its relatively high glycemic impact.
35-40
Glycemic Index
Coconut Palm Sugar/Nectar
Originally made from the sugary sap of the Palmyra palm, the date palm or sugar date palm, it’s also made from the sap of coconut palms.

Bottom Line: So-So.
Raw nectar is a great sweetener alternative when you want a syrupy consistency.
40
Glycemic Index
Fruit Juice Concentrate
Removing fiber from fruit concentrates the naturally-occurring sugars and makes fruit juice way too concentrated to be an optimal sweetener.

Bottom Line: So-So
Only have in very small amounts to maintain your blood sugar balance.
40-50
Glycemic Index
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees from the nectar of flowers. With antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients, raw, unprocessed honey is considered a superfood and remedy for many ailments.

Bottom Line: So-So.
Choose your honey wisely and get raw, unheated honey to get the most health benefits.
54
Glycemic Index
Maple Sugar
Made by boiling sap collected from natural growth maple trees. With a very high glycemic index, it is refined sap and therefore processed.

Bottom Line: So-So.
Use the darkest variety available as it has more nutrients. However, there are better choices out there.
55
Glycemic Index
Molasses
A viscous by-product of the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses is rich in iron, calcium and magnesium and is the only sugar that is alkaline-forming.

Bottom Line: So-So.
High glycemic index but the blackstrap variety can be good for an occasional treat.
55
Glycemic Index
Evaporated Cane Sugar
The crystallized remains of sap extracted from sugar cane.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Down!
Evaporated cane juice is often considered unrefined sugar, but juicing is a refining process and evaporating refines further. An improvement over white sugar but still too much impact on blood sugar to be a long-term sweetener solution.
65
Glycemic Index
Raw Sugar
Raw sugar is not actually raw sugar. It’s processed, though not as refined as white sugar.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Down!
Also acts like a drug that causes artificial highs, mood swings, depression and energy crashes. Better than white sugar but still smart to avoid!
65
Glycemic Index
Old School White Sugar
Produced from refining the juice of sugar cane or beet into molasses, then brown sugar, then white sugar.

Bottom Line: Thumbs Down!
Acts like a drug that causes artificial highs, mood swings, depression and energy crashes. Avoid at all costs for maximum health and sanity!