Could you give me some information on the many sweeteners on the market? Which should be avoided;which are suitable for a gluten/lactose free diet etc?

We have a couple FAQs on this topic that we'd like to share with you. The natural sweeteners that we recommend (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar and blackstrap molasses) are all appropriate for someone on a gluten and lactose free diet. Kicking the Sugar Habit

Is one type of sweetener better than the other for my body and the way my body processes them?

Your question can be answered in a variety of different ways. First, in terms of overall nutritional quality, it's always better to get your "sweeteners" as part of whole, natural foods rather than separately purchased products that you add to your food.

I realize that many people simply have a "sweet tooth" and are accustomed to sweetening a good number of foods and beverages. However, the routine use of added sweeteners can sometimes detract from the naturally sweet flavors of foods.

Carrots, for example, are a naturally sweet vegetable. They're about 15% sugar in terms of total calories; they contain an array of sugars including sucrose, glucose, and fructose. However, to many people carrots do not taste sweet, and the reason sometimes involves the total amount of sugar to which a person has become accustomed. A large carrot will contain about three-quarters of a teaspoon of sugar at most. If you're accustomed to one to two teaspoons of any added sugar in your coffee or tea, or as an added glaze on an entrée, your carrot may no longer be as enjoyable to you because it may seem non-sweet by comparison.

Second, in the same way that I prefer natural foods as a source of all dietary sugars (please see the carrot example above), I also prefer natural sources of extracted sugar products. For example, agave nectar is a sweetener extracted from the agave plant, and it contains a variety of nutrients that are naturally found in the agave plant. While these nutrients are found in relatively small amounts in agave nectar, this sweetener is still a better nutritional choice because of this natural diversity. Agave nectar is about 70% fructose in terms of its sugar composition. However, this abundance of fructose is not the reason I favor its use as a sweetener for individuals who have decided to use added sweeteners. The reason I favor its use is because agave nectar is more natural and less processed than many other available sweeteners. Table sugar, for example, provides no nutritional variety whatsoever, even though it originates in a natural plant (sugar cane).

Your best choice of sweeteners always involves those sweeteners that are most natural and least processed. This is the reason I like whole, natural foods as the source for sweetness in a Healthiest Way of Eating. However, for individuals wanting added sweeteners, my top choices would be honey and natural nectars, including agave nectar. I strongly recommend the purchase of organic honey, since bees can inadvertently pick up pesticide residues and other potential contaminants while gathering pollens in any pesticide-containing environment. Organic agave nectar would also be my recommended choice for this sweetener. Other sweeteners that I also like are organic maple syrup and organic blackstrap molasses. If you need to use a product that acts like regular sugar, then I would suggest organic evaporated cane juice, since it is less processed than refined sugar and contains more nutrients.

When it comes to dietary sugars, the key to supporting your body's metabolism is moderation. Any dietary sugar can disrupt your body's metabolism if eaten excessively. I don't believe that the research supports intake of any added sugar in large amounts, regardless of its "naturalness" or degree of processing. I also don't believe it makes sense to focus on the exact composition of sugars within a natural food or within a natural, minimally processed sweetener. Different foods have different sugar composition, and I believe that these differences are healthy provided that the foods are organically grown and are consumed as close to their whole, natural condition as possible.

privacy policy and visitor agreement | who we are | site map | what's new
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.
© 2001-2014 The George Mateljan Foundation, All Rights Reserved