Natural Sweeteners: Not All The Same And Not All Good For You
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This article has been written by experts and fact-checked by experts, including licensed nutritionists, dietitians or medical professionals. The information in the article is based on scientific studies and research.
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Stevia has been available in the United States, as a zero-calorie natural sweetener, for well over ten years.
However, many Americans may know it best as a punch line in the revered TV show Breaking Bad with somewhat-sympathetic drug kingpin Walter White murdering an associate by poisoning that Stevia crap she used regularly.
Natural sweeteners like Stevia, and artificial sweeteners like sucralose, are growing rapidly in popularity. The global market for sugar substitutes is around $15 billion annually. However, thats still dwarfed by the worldwide sugar market, which is estimated to hit about $45 billion by the year 2027.
Natural sweeteners make up about two-thirds of all sugar substitute consumption, and their sales are expected to grow at an annual rate of nearly 4% per year over the next seven years.
With so many alternatives now available, its a good idea to understand the differences between the different types of natural sweeteners.
The 5 Best Coffee Sweeteners
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world and there are an almost infinite number of ways you can enjoy it, from simple and straight-forward black to triple-shots of espresso with a non-fat milk alternative, extra foam, super hot and added whip and a caramel design on top.
The most common additives, however, are cream and sugar. What if youre trying to avoid refined sugar? The 5 best coffee sweeteners, outside the world of table sugar, are stevia, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and molasses.
Each of these coffee sweeteners has its own unique benefits, which youll learn all about as you read through the rest of this article.
Sugar Substitutes To Avoid
Evidence suggests that we shouldnt be fooled into thinking that zero-calorie artificial sweeteners with zero grams of sugar are healthy. Both human and animal studies continue to reveal that frequent consumption of diet soda or artificial sweeteners is associated with greater body mass index , obesity and metabolic syndrome.
What are the worst sugar substitutes? One is high fructose corn syrup, which is usually produced from genetically modified corn.
Fructose is a simple sugar that is rapidly metabolized by the liver, causing a sugar high. Researchers believe this quick-acting sugar leads to increased storage of fat in the liver, resulting in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, digestive upset and atherosclerosis.
Another popular one is sucralose, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar and may contribute to an addiction for overly sweet foods and drinks. A study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that cooking with sucralose at high temperatures can generate dangerous chloropropanols a toxic class of compounds.
Human and rodent studies demonstrate that sucralose may also alter glucose, insulin and glucagon-like peptide 1 levels.
There are many artificial sweeteners on the market today, including:
Which is the safest artificial sweetener? It depends on what you consider to be artificial.
A sweetener in extract form, such as stevia or monk fruit, is a good choice if youre looking for a zero-calorie option.
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Buying Guide For Best Sugar Substitutes
For centuries, pure cane or beet sugar has been the most common form of food and beverage sweetener. While its inadvisable to consume large quantities of added sugar, entirely avoiding sucrose and high fructose corn syrup is a nearly impossible task. Sugar is naturally occurring in healthy fruits and vegetables, but its also often hidden in popular everyday foods.
Fortunately, there are a number of sugar substitutes on the market. Many are derived from natural sources and can be swapped out for sugar in recipes without sacrificing taste. These sugar substitutes also have the benefit of being much lower in calories than sugar and dont necessarily produce unwanted glucose spikes in the bloodstream.
Indeed, diabetics and dieters alike can benefit greatly from the introduction of these sugar substitutes into their daily routines. But which one should you try? To learn more, read on. If youre ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.
How To Sweeten Coffee Without Sugar: 19 Healthy Alternatives
EnjoyJava helps coffee lovers make the best cup of coffee. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Looking for a healthy sugar alternative for your coffee? In this post, youll learn how to sweeten coffee without sugar. We cover 19 natural and artificial sweeteners, plus spices and healthy fats.
Youll also learn how to choose the best beans and brew methods for a better flavor .
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Sugar Substitutes That Arent Sweet
Now, Im going to be straight up honest:
If youre looking for a sickly sweet cup of coffee none of these are going to do it for you.
But if you need to watch your GI for health reasons, adding one or more of the following ingredients can be a good compromise.
So if youre a fan of sweet coffee but you cant have it, these things will give your coffee a little flavor twist thatll make it taste more pleasant.
Healthy Ways To Sweeten Coffee Brown Cane Sugar
The first valid alternative as a natural sweetener to white sugar is undoubtedly brown cane sugar, very similar to white sugar, both in flavor and sweetening power.In large retailers, often what is passed off as cane sugar is actually nothing but white sugar with dyes.
Brown cane sugar has a slight licorice aftertaste, is grainy, sandy, and browned in color. It is the result of the very first extraction from cane juice after its harvest, typical of Brazil. It is very rich in nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, vitamins, and mineral salts.
There are several varieties, all excellent to try at least once to choose our favorite: panela mascobado* Dulcita rapadura melado de acucar.
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Best Artificial Sweetener For Coffee Agave Syrup
The syrup or agave juice, which is nothing more than the sap of the agave plant, is very rich in mineral and trace minerals.
Its sweetening power is due to the high fructose content. It is slightly more fluid than honey and has no particular flavor notes.
Here too, the discriminant reveals the choice of a certified product of the highest quality and not subjected to harmful chemical procedures. Therefore, it is better to rely on supermarkets that treat natural products or organic shops.
Benefits And Risks Of Adding Honey To Coffee
Like any other sweetener, honey comes with its pros and cons. Here are a few advantages of using honey as a natural sugar alternative:
High Nutritional Value
Honey contains antioxidants, flavonoids, phenolics, and vitamins E and C . All these vitamins, compounds, and minerals help the body perform various functions, although most of them are present in small amounts.
One tablespoon of honey contains only 64 calories . This is actually more calories than a tablespoon of table sugar, but most people tend to use less honey due to its strong flavor and sweetness. Honey could therefore be an excellent substitute for table sugar, of which the average American consumes 270 of their calories daily .
If you are experiencing diarrhea, skip the coffee because caffeine can worsen your symptoms, but honey can be used as part of an electrolyte-containing drink . The sugar in the honey improves the absorption of electrolytes and fluid and if the diarrhea happens to be bacterial, honeys antimicrobial properties may be helpful.
Honey can also help with weight control due to its low calories when compared to other added sugars. While it doesnt have fewer calories per se, its strong sweet flavor often means that you need to use less than you would other types of sugar. Weight loss helps decrease the risk factors of increased body weight, including increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure .
Preventing Acid Reflux
Relieving Colds And Flus
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What Can I Use Instead Of Sugar In Coffee
Luckily, there are many different kinds of sweeteners and substitutes that you can use instead of sugar in your coffee. These options are both artificial and natural and offer potential benefits. They can help with diabetes management, weight control, and tooth decay.
There are four main kinds of sugar alternatives:
Best Healthy Alternatives To Sugar In Coffee
1. Liquid Stevia
Unlike other sweeteners, liquid stevia has no aftertaste or acquired taste! This zero-calorie sweetener that comes from the stevia plant has no calories or carbohydrates, making it a healthier substitute to refined sugar.
Interestingly, it is thought that using drops of stevia in moderation can benefit our immune systems! I use the SweetLeaf brand, notice no bitter aftertaste, and think it’s great!
If you notice any bitterness with your stevia, try adding just a pinch of sea salt to balance it out. It sounds strange, but it really works! Or just try another brand.
Keep in mind that every brand of liquid stevia has a different level of sweetness. With some you may need 10 drops in your cup of coffee and with others you may need 20 drops. It takes a little experimentation to get it just right.
2. Monk fruit extract
What is monk fruit?
Monk fruit is a small, round fruit native to northern China. This sweetener is extracted from the fruit itself, making it a natural sweetener and a raw sugar.
Monk fruit has received the generally recognized as safe or GRAS designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although it is new to the U.S. market, some evidence suggests there may be health benefits to this natural alternative to refined sugar.
Monk fruit is a definitely one of our top healthy alternatives to sugar in coffee!
3. Pure Maple Syrup
5. Coconut sugar
What does a low glycemic index mean?
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Natural Alternatives As Sugar Substitute For Coffee
There are a host of natural alternatives to sugar for coffee. The natural sugar alternatives for coffee are enlisted hereunder
Maple Syrup Maple syrup will not spike your glucose levels. But it comes with enormous benefits as maple syrup is packed with antioxidants. Just add a teaspoon of maple syrup to your coffee and get the natural toffee, nutty or chocolaty flavor. The maple flavor is too good, especially for the colder seasons. But be careful to pick up that maple syrup that has not been diluted by high fructose corn syrup. Otherwise, all the benefits will get lost.
If you are undecided about the product or brand you should go for, you may try out ChocZeros Maple Syrup.
Its free from sugar, Low Carb, Gluten-freeWith no preservatives!
Stevia Stevia is obtained from a plant, Stevia rebaudiana which is native in Paraguay and Brazil. This safe, organic sugar alternative has no effect on blood sugar as it has low carbohydratesand is non-caloric. At times, it is mixed with sugar alcohol, Erythritol which is also obtained from nature and is non-caloric and has a very small effect on blood sugar.
You should be careful with the amount as both of these are naturally sweeter than sugar.It does not leave any funky aftertaste and so you may not notice that it is not sugar.
If Stevia is your choice, then you may try out this widely acclaimed SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia which is priced around $11.
Use In Cooking And Baking
Because many sugar substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a smaller amount to achieve the desired sweetness. Therefore, when cooking or baking, your recipe may need to be adjusted if you’re swapping white table sugar for a sweeter alternative.
While the sweetener package may have specific instructions for cooking and baking, this may come down to trial and error , or you can search for specific recipes that use sugar substitutes or natural sweeteners in place of white sugar.
A few other things to be aware of when cooking and baking with alternative sweeteners:
- Your baked goods may be lighter in color as natural sugar browns more deeply when baked and artificial sweeteners don’t brown as nicely.
- Cooking time may need to be adjusted.
- There may be a texture or aftertaste you’re not used to.
- The volume of cakes or cookies may be slightly decreased as you’re using much less sweetener.
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No Sugar How To Break Your Habit
No sugar or sugar substitute is healthy in excess.
Thats true whether its in soda, sweet tea, fruit drinks, packs of sugar or sugar substitute for coffee or tea, or artificially sweetened flavor packets for water, Taylor says. Drink plain water! At the very least, drink unflavored tea, coffee, bubbly water or water with fruit infused in it.
How can you break your habit? Use a true measuring spoon to gauge how much added sugar youre using daily.
Challenge yourself your foods and beverages dont always need to taste sweet, Taylor notes.
Try decreasing the sweetener in your coffee or tea by 1 teaspoon per week and start diluting juices by mixing half your usual portion with water to retain some of the sweetness. While at the grocery store, start a habit of reading labels. Much of the sugar in the American diet is found in processed and sweetened pre-made food and beverages.
That way, you wont have to quit cold turkey.
Our goal isnt to get added sugar intake down to zero because that isnt realistic, Taylor says. Americans need to work hard to drastically reduce sugar intake to support healthy weights and decrease our risk for chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Top Sugar Substitutes And Sweeteners
Use our list below as a handy guide to some of the most common sugar substitutes and how to incorporate them into your diet.
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How To Drink And Enjoy Coffee Without Any Sweetener
If you leave out the sweetener, there are several different ways you can still enjoy your coffee:
- Change the roast. A dark roast tends to have a more bold and bitter taste. To enjoy your coffee without the sweetener, get lighter roasts that have a more light and citrusy flavor.
- Try cold brew. Cold drinks are a little bit more palatable. Many people find that they can drink cold brew coffee or iced coffee completely black with no problemyet hot coffee is more difficult to drink black. Try out a couple different kinds of coffee to see which type you enjoy without sugar.
- Add a dash of cinnamon. Cinnamon and other spices such as nutmeg and cocoa powder are an easy way to add some sweetness to your coffee without increasing the sugar or calories.
Is Honey Better Than Sugar
For people who are looking to lower their intake of table sugar, honey can be a convenient and natural alternative. It doesnt raise blood sugar levels like sugar, given its lower GI value. It also tastes sweeter since it has a high level of fructose.
Suppose that you are diabetic or trying to manage your blood sugar. In this case, there are not very many benefits to swapping to honey. Honey also offers very little nutritional benefit. If you do want to try honey or discover that you actually prefer it in your coffee, try to find a raw brand. Raw honey provides more antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins than regular table sugar.
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