Many of us assume that when we see that there are zero calories in a product, it is a free for all. This is a very misconstrued mindset that many of us have. Zero calories does not mean that it is your best option, in fact often times it is very questionable. The concept of low calorie diets is pushed upon us, leading us to incorporate foods with the lowest calories on the Nutritional Facts label into our courses.
Sure, for a bottle of pickles it may say zero calories per serving, but a pickle spear still contains at least 4 calories, a cup would be about 19 calories. Another vegetable very low in calories is celery; you practically burn calories just eating it! The point of that is that in order for something to have any sort of nutritional value, it is safe to say there are some calories involved. Hate to break it to you, but this rule still applies to sugar and sweeteners.
Many of us trying to lose weight will turn to zero calorie unnatural sweeteners, such as Splenda to get our sweet fix without any contribution of extra calories. Do not get me wrong, there are zero calorie natural sweeteners such as Stevia that are not nearly as poor for your health. The keyword there is natural versus unnatural.
Artificial sweeteners such as Sweet N’ Low, Equal, and Splenda are made with the chemicals aspartame and sucralose. These synthetic chemicals are far from ok for our health. That being said, sugar itself no matter how raw, organic, or natural it may be, is never necessarily “healthy” for us. Although it may not be good for us, it is extremely difficult to live a completely sugar-free lifestyle. Some of us have incredibly strong self-control and can go cold turkey and rid sugar of our diet almost entirely, but that is not the case for most of us.
Why Are Aspartame and Sucralose So Bad For You?
Well to begin with, chemicals in general are unnatural and should not be consumed in mass amounts. Our bodies are designed to breakdown natural nutrients and foods to be it’s healthiest self. This is why processed foods and junk foods are so harsh on our bodies. Although there are many chemicals in the foods we eat to keep them preserved and tasty, aspartame and Sucralose are mistaken as “better options” as far as their presence in sugars, and we need to understand the harm that they have on our systems.
Aspartame is marketed is to several large corporations as a chemical to sweeten foods, chewing gum, sodas, etc. This chemical is much cheaper in cost and is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar itself. This chemical is linked to several diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, brain tumors, etc. A scary fact is that it contains about 10% methanol which is a poison. If that does not scare you enough, I do not know what will scare you straight from indulging in such artificial sweeteners.
Sucralose is a general name for Splenda. It is a synthetic sweetener that is made by chlorinating sugar. We all know the affects of chlorine on our hair/ skin, so how great do you thinks it is on our delicates insides? So sure, it does derive from a sugar molecule but then is put through a five-step process in which Chlorine is added, in turn altering the molecule entirely.
For these reasons we have taken a look at five alternative sweeteners in particular and their benefits that may be able to assist you in making better decisions when it comes to sweetening your morning oatmeal or cup of coffee!
Stevia is an all-natural sweetener that derives from a plant in South America. This is an extract that is recommended because it does not spike your blood sugar levels with helps keeping insulin levels balanced and does not give rise to cravings. This extract comes in both powder and liquid form, which makes it compatible with numerous food choices.
Xylitol is recognized by many diabetics as the best sweetener for their disease. This alternative to sugar has about 40% less calories and 75% less carbohydrates, which are some pretty impressive percentages. Besides the nutritional benefits, it is recognized for dental and other medical benefits as well. This is the type of sugar that is often found in sugar-free gum and candy.
Agave is a little more controversial when it comes to alternative sweeteners. It is a natural nectar that is extracted from the agave plant but is processed in such a way that is very similar to the frowned upon high fructose corn syrup. Agave nectar itself is very high in fructose, which in turn tends to make you crave more and eat more. Fructose is natural and healthful when it is consumed through fruits and vegetables. It is not until the processing of agave occurs that the mass of amounts of fructose in agave are no longer good for you.
Honey is very similar to agave nectar in how it looks and consistency, but is actually the better alternative. Natural raw honey has several benefits. It is great for helping your immune system when you are sick with cold, flu, or anything respiratory. Another perk is that if you suffer from allergies, if you buy local raw honey it will help to alleviate those allergies when the season comes around. It has about the same calories, as you would find in agave.
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the flower bud of a coconut tree. This sweetener is highly recommended amongst nutritionists. It is natural and has much lower glycemic levels than honey and agave. It also is filled with minerals and nutrients such as potassium, zinc, iron, antioxidants, and calcium. It should be used in moderation, but may be the alternative you were looking for!
I hope that by having a better understanding of the artificial and natural sweeteners you will not go for the calorie content over the true nutritional value next time you are baking, cooking, or consuming any type of sweets!
Brue, Alexia. “Your Guide to Natural Sweeteners.” Well Good Your Guide to Natural Sweeteners Comments. 2013. Web.
“Safe Alternative Sweeteners.” Goop Safe Alternative Sweeteners Comments. Web.
“Why Use Xylitol? | Benefits for Teeth & Health | Xylitol.org.” Xylitol Why Use Xylitol Comments. Web.