Sugar substitutes are suitable for diabetics and those on a diet, but choosing the right one is not easy. Here are some great ideas for your diet.
Natural Sugar Substitutes
Decide if you are consuming reduced sugar foods for health reasons or just for the flavor.
Honey and honey crystals have always been popular choices as substitutes. They taste good, and there are many nutritional benefits linked to them. However, if you require a low GI diet, then it may not be the best for you, since both still contain a high amount of sucrose.
There is also Agave nectar, which has a honey caramel like consistency. Just note that the Agave nectar is high in fructose, so may not be suitable to those on a diet with low glycemic index.
This syrup can be found in many eateries and restaurants and it is readily available. However, it is very high in fructose, and should be taken only in moderation.
Decide whether you are comfortable with artificial sweeteners , such as Equal, Sweet-n-Low, and Splenda.
Most people are aware of the reported health issues raised with these products. However, these products do have FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval and is easily available in supermarkets. All these have low levels or no levels of sucrose. However, it is worth noting on the administration website that there are many sweeteners which have been banned such as Cyclamate in the United States, and in some other countries such as Canada, Saccharin is also banned. Please check your administration authority for your country, as bans differ across them all. Other alternatives such as Neotame are still approved for use.
Decide if you would like to try alternatives like more natural plant extracts. If you are not comfortable with the above choices, then you can try substitutes made with Stevia, which is a natural plant. However, any product which has Stevia (or its extract Rebiana) will not feel exactly the same as it is more powdery, and products made with Stevia do contain a slight bitter after taste compared to all other alternatives. Stevia is also very suitable for those on a careful GI diet.
If you require an exact taste and granularity, then alcohols are your best option to use when preparing recipes. These products are made from a natural fermentation process using fruits. (Some people strictly refer to these polyols as “substitutes”, and the term “sweeteners” to refer to artificial sweeteners). Baking may yield different results, as these are yeast free.
Xylitol has become quite popular in recent years and has the exact 1 for 1 intensity as normal sucrose, making it them very good sugar alternatives for cooking. However, as Xylitol is not well absorbed by the body, a low number of users have reported laxative and bloating effects.
If you find you need sugar substitutes which have no side effects, then try Erythritol, which is the latest of the sugar alcohols. These have zero GI, taste exactly like sucrose (although it only has a small fraction of the energy density), and is well absorbed by the small intestine, so there is no laxative or bloating effects. Just note that it is about 30% less sweet than sucrose. So if you use 1 tablespoon normally for your tea, coffee or recipe, then you will need to use 1.5 tablespoons instead.
Erythritol and Xylitol both have the FDA approval of GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and can be found in most health food stores. They make a great addition to create low sugar cereals and also can be used in recipes for reduced carbohydrate foods.
For many consumers the most important factor when it comes to choosing, is whether the alternative is safe. In conclusion, it is left to the individual to determine the merits of all case studies and trials and decide whether they are comfortable with all the options presented here for their sugar substitutes.