Getting off processed sugar is difficult.
Fortunately, there is no need to quit the sweet life, you just need to look for more natural options.
The sweeteners discussed here are all healthy, have a low fructose content and are truly sweet.
We have known about Stevia for a while and its popularity is on the rise.
South Americans have known about the benefits of this plant for hundreds of years.
The compounds in the leaves are hundreds of times sweeter than refined sugar - when compared in equal quantities.
Stevia is sweet and has a very low-calorie count.
It can also lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Studies on rodents have confirmed that Stevia can decrease the amount of plaque in the arteries, reduce the levels of harmful cholesterol and help treat metabolic syndrome.
Stevia comes out on top as a healthy sweetener.
Another sweetener, Erythritol also has a low-calorie count.
It is found naturally in some fruits and is also mass produced.
It is not quite as sweet as sugar but only has around 6% of the total calorie count gram for gram.
It also has no effect on blood sugar levels or the levels of insulin in the blood stream.
The body does absorb it but it passes through and out of the kidneys in the same form again.
It has been proven safe to use but can cause an upset stomach if you overdo it.
Erythritol tastes very much like sugar, although it can have a mild aftertaste.
It has no health benefits on its own but it certainly does no harm and seems to be the best-tolerated sugar substitute.
Xylitol is also a sugar substitute and is about as sweet as sugar.
It has a higher calorie count than some of the others.
It is also thought to help increase the density of bones and thus help in the prevention of osteoporosis. It has no effect on blood insulin or sugar.
Overconsumption can cause digestion problems.
It is poisonous to dogs so it is best to avoid it if you have dogs.
This is derived from a plant that is indigenous to the Andes.
It is a relative newcomer and is more popular in the weight loss industry as a supplement.
One study backs up this claim, specifically for women.
The active compound acts like a soluble fiber, so it is valuable for good gut health.
It has also been shown to be useful in treating constipation and there are several other digestive benefits, as well as, long as you don't overdo it.
What About Healthy Sugars?
There are a number of other natural sugars that are said to be healthy. These include honey, molasses, maple syrup and coconut sugar.
In the grand scheme of things, they might not contain quite as much fructose but are still just about as bad as refined sugar is.
Once again, though, nothing works in a vacuum - you have to look at the context.
For obese people, sugar is a poison.
Some people should also give up any form of sugar. If you have an addiction to food, you suffer from diabetes, a binging problem or need to follow a ketogenic diet, you fall into this category.
Healthy people are able to get away with a little bit of sugar here and there. It is not the best for you but it won't do too much harm.
If you prefer to use healthy ingredients when baking, adding honey is ok.