Natural sweeteners are sweeteners that are just as delicious and if used in moderation, they reduce the ill-effects of other normal sweeteners. People like sweets because they provide a pleasurable taste sensation. To this date, there are over 200 chemicals that are known to taste sweet, but many have problems such as a bitter aftertaste and so on.
If you like to eat sweet foods, the following list of natural sweeteners are options that can help you get a healthier diet. However, they should also be used in moderation; if abused, they can still cause many of the ill effects as other sweeteners.
Brown Rice Syrup
This is a balanced sweetener that is mainly a complex carbohydrate which enters the bloodstream more slowly than maple syrup or honey. However, brown rice syrup does not contain as much nutrients as barley malt syrup; it does contain some traces of Vitamins B and minerals though. It is also less concentrated in flavor compared to other types of sweeteners. It is used to add a mild sweetness to foods.
Barley Malt Syrup
This sweetener is less sweet when compared to honey and molasses. Its level of sweetness is comparable to the brown rice syrup. It is also high in complex carbohydrates and enters the bloodstream slowly. As such, it is commonly used as a balanced sweetener for people with high blood sugar levels. The malting process also increases the amount of Vitamins B as well as some traces of minerals.
Most fructose is made by adding several industrial enzymes to corn syrup starch to produce sucrose. The latter is then further broken down into fructose and glucose.
Apart from this, some fructose is made from beet sugar or refined cane. Fructose made this way should be avoided as the fructose-glucose bonding was broken.
Fructose is not directly absorbed into the blood stream and hence does not raise the blood sugar levels significantly. However, it is still recommended to use fructose with some caution as it may still be an overly refined product.
This cannot be really considered as sugar as it is derived from dehydrated dates that are processed by grounding. It is high in fiber and carries a wide range of vitamins and minerals such as iron. However, it is not water soluble and is usually very expensive.
These natural sweeteners are made from cereal grains which are processed into syrup. The malt is then made from sprouted barley which is dried and powdered. The malt is then mixed with barley, rice, wheat or corn and heat; this converts the available starches to sugar. The sugar that is found in malt syrup is mainly maltose and is less than half as sweet as sucrose.
It is not advisable to use malt syrup in high volume as they are still considered as concentrated sugars.
This is a natural sweetener that is mild in flavor with excellent sweetening capabilities. A 100% pure grade A maple syrup is made up of 65% sucrose; lower grades ones have slightly lower sugar content.
Maple syrup is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream which raises the blood sugar level. It is also one of the more expensive sweeteners around in the market. When using maple syrup, remember to go for pure instead of maple flavored ones as the latter is almost pure sucrose with a little maple flavor being added.
Honey contains 80% invert sugar and similar to maple syrup, it is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream, immediately raising the blood sugar level. Due to this, it cannot be used as a balanced natural sweetener.
Honey also has the highest sugar content level among all the natural sweeteners because of its high level of fructose. It is also considered as one of the sweetest sweeteners when compared to the rest of them.
This sweetener is a member of the Compositae family and leaves from the stevia plants are used for this purpose. Stevia can range from 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar and yet, it contains virtually no calories. One pound of stevia can have the sweetening power of 300 pounds of sugar. Both the extract and leaf may be used in cooking.
Some studies have shown that stevia may have regulating effects on the pancreas and can help to stabilize the blood sugar levels. As such, it is helpful for people with hypoglycemia or diabetes.
However, there are also some researches that revealed that stevia may dilate vessels, lower blood pressure as well as increase the flow of urine when used over a long period of time.
Sorghum molasses is made from a plant that is related to millet. It is rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and Vitamins B. As such, it is recommended to use this instead of using cane molasses.
The sugar content of sorghum molasses is about 65% sucrose.
The above natural sweeteners can also be considered as healthy choices as they do not give as many ill effects as the other types of sweeteners. Do consider giving them a try the next time when you are craving for sweet foods.