In this sugar-coated episode, we unravel the truth behind popular sweeteners. We’re bringing you the bitter and the sweet with our YOSA (Yay or Step Away) guide to help you navigate the sticky world of sugar substitutes.
Today, we’re seeing an explosion in sugar-free products, primarily influenced by the keto diet trend and the uptick in gadgets like continuous blood sugar monitors. Our insatiable appetite for sugar is a hard one to shake, but it’s vital we confront our collective sweet tooth. With adults consuming over 80 grams (or more than 20 teaspoons!) of sugar per day, and kids guzzling even more thanks to sugary drinks, it’s no surprise that sugar is implicated in health issues such as various cancers and heart disease.
Let’s start with our “Yay” sweeteners:
- Stevia: Closely related to chrysanthemums and marigolds, this plant-based sweetener is a worthy contender for your kitchen cupboard. However, not all stevia is created equal, so aim for whole leaf stevia. A noteworthy mention is New Naturals which offers good quality stevia.
- Monk Fruit: This melon-derived sweetener, often mixed with erythritol, is not just sweet but also has antimicrobial properties and is gentle on the microbiome. A brand we like for pure monk fruit is “It’s Just”.
- Allulose: This “rare sugar” found in fruits like jackfruit, figs, and raisins is an intriguing option that could even lower blood sugar and reduce liver fat storage. Our choice? Wholesome Sweetener’s allulose.
Sweeteners to step away from? Sucralose, Saccharin, and Aspartame. These synthetic sweeteners may be calorie-free, but the potential health costs are not worth the zero on the scale. In the mood for a diet soda? Zevia, sweetened with stevia, is our pick.
We also touch on honey and coconut sugar, which, although superior to table sugar, should still be savored sparingly. Agave, with its sneaky high fructose content, is surprisingly not as healthy as many believe.
High fructose corn syrup, however, takes the (unhealthy) cake. It wreaks havoc through elevated uric acid levels. If you’re interested in learning more about uric acid and its implications, we suggest “Nature Wants Us to Be Fat” by Richard Johnson and “Drop Acid” by Dr. David Perlmutter.
Overconsumption of sugars, particularly high fructose corn syrup, is contributing to a worrying rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), especially among teens. Fruits are the safe haven for fructose, but concentrated fructose can steer you towards health issues like metabolic disorders, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.
Erythritol, a popular sugar alcohol, is an interesting case. While a study linked erythritol to heart attacks, we question its validity due to erythritol’s relatively recent ‘safe’ status (granted by the FDA only in 2018). We recommend Chris Kresser’s critique of the study. For now, erythritol resides in the grey area between “yay” and “stay away.” While we can’t give it a clear verdict, what is clear is this – the less sweetness you consume, the less sweetness you crave.
So, it seems there’s no magic sweetener to whisk our cravings away. Whatever you choose, it’s important to remember that moderation is key – but that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself!
- NuStevia Liquid Sweetener
- Read: Does erythritol increase the risk of heart attack and early death?
- Nature Wants Us to Be Fat by Richard J. Johnson
- Drop Acid by Dr. David Perlmutter
Produced by Nova Media