About sweeteners

I’ve got a sweet tooth. It doesn’t take a lot of research to discover that sugar is not good for you. Yet, sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup, permeates many of the products available to us. Growing up with sugar-laden foods, I developed a taste for sugar. So, now that I’ve matriculated to a plant-strong diet, how do I deal with this sweet tooth in a more healthy way?

For one thing, I eat a lot more vegetables than I used to, and this reduces the craving for sweets. For another, I prepare a lot of my meals from fresh ingredients, so I can control the amount of sugar. When a recipe calls for sugar, I rely primarily on sugar substitutes such as agave syrup that are low on the glycemic index. Most of the sweeteners on the market have been shown to be harmful in clinical trials, yet there are two that are harmless. While they have little or no nutritional value, they enable you to enjoy the sensation of sweetness without harming your body.

Erythritol is my go to sweetener. It is a natural sweetener found in melons, peaches, pears, and grapes. It is absorbed in the small intestine with no laxative effects. It is about 70% as sweet as sugar. I purchase it in bulk online.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from birch bark, a byproduct of the furniture industry. It is healthy for your teeth and used as a sweetener in chewing gum. It does have a laxative effect when used in large amounts, so you need to use it sparingly. It seems to be a bit sweeter than sugar, and has a slight aftertaste which I like, but some people find a bit strong. It is also coarser than sugar. You can remedy this by blending it briefly in a Magic Bullet to give a powdered sugar consistency.

I’ve experimented with various combinations of sweeteners in pies and sorbets for example, and the combination that I find works well for me is:

1/2 cup erythritol, 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) xylitol, and 1/8 cup raw sugar. You could use just erythritol, but the xylitol and sugar give the erythritol just a bit more bite.

For the latest researched-based information on sweeteners, got to
nutrition facts.org, search for sweeteners, and watch Dr. Greger’s videos including the three listed below.

Erythritol may be a sweet antioxidant
A harmless artificial sweetner
What’s the best low calorie sweetener?

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