Too much sugar consumption can make it difficult to control blood sugar and body weight. Just how do you satisfy your sweet tooth and keep away from sugar? Natural sweeteners offer a great alternative to sugar, while still providing the same desirable taste. But, there are so many available these days, how do you know which is best for you?
What are Natural Sweeteners?
There are two kinds of sweeteners: nutritive and non-nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners are things like sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar. These sweeteners contain calories and carbohydrates. They may raise blood sugar and contribute to weight gain. Non-nutritive sweeteners provide zero calories or carbohydrates. These are commonly referred to as sugar substitutes.
You can find many kinds of non-nutritive sweeteners on the market. Some are artificially produced, such as sucralose, aspartame, and saccharine. Others are natural sweeteners made from plant extracts or non-absorbable carbohydrates. Although both types of sweeteners can be used to replace sugar, many natural sweeteners have additional health benefits that make them a better choice when compared to their artificial alternatives.
What is Stevia?
A natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, Stevia comes from compounds called steviol glycosides. Raw Stevia is used in many other countries but is not allowed in the United States due to safety concerns.
Calorie and carb-free Stevia extract is the common form of Stevia found in the US. Since it has no calories or carbs, it is a safe alternative for people on the keto diet, with diabetes, and those who want to cut back on calories.
Stevia is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar. It can be found in many different forms, from liquids to powders, making it versatile to add to food. Although it is generally well-tolerated, some people find that stevia extracts have a bitter or metallic aftertaste.
There are a few downsides to Stevia. Those with allergies to the Asteraceae plant family that includes sunflowers and daisies may also be allergic to Stevia. Some people find it causes bloating and gas. Overall, Stevia is a safe and well-tolerated natural sweetener with many versatile uses.
What is Monk Fruit Sweetener?
Monk fruit is the newest of the many natural sweeteners available on the market. It is made from a small, green melon-like fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is called monk fruit because it is commonly used by Buddhist monks to make medicinal tea. The fruit isn’t frequently eaten on its own as it tends to spoil quickly.
A natural sweetener can be made from monk extract. Monk fruit sweetener is calorie-free and appealing to many because it is less processed than other natural sweeteners. Since it contains zero calories or sugar, this makes it an ideal sweetener for those on a keto diet, as well as those trying to control their blood sugar or lose weight.
The sweetness of the monk fruit extract comes from antioxidant compounds called mogrosides. Although monk fruit sweetener is relatively new to the US market, emerging research suggests that mogrosides may help improve insulin levels, reduce inflammation, and lower oxidative stress. At this time, it remains unclear if monk fruit sweetener contains enough mogrosides to have a significant impact on health or chronic disease.
Monk fruit sweeteners can be used just like sugar in recipes or to sweeten beverages. It is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, so you may be able to use less. It is available in many different forms, from liquid to powder to granulated, making it easy to use in different foods. Be cautious when choosing a monk fruit sweetener as some manufacturers mix it with dextrose, which could add carbs.
The monk fruit extract comes with a few downsides. Since it is made from a fruit, it does have a fruity taste that some people don’t enjoy. It is also relatively new to the US market, which means it has not been extensively studied compared to other sweeteners. Those with allergies to gourds, such as melons, may also be allergic to monk fruit. Finally, since it is imported, it may be slightly more expensive than other sweeteners.
What is Allulose?
Sometimes called D-psicose, Allulose is also a newer sweetener to the market, like monk fruit. It is naturally found in a few foods, such as wheat and raisins. It is a single sugar molecule, like glucose or fructose, but its chemical structure prevents its utilization as a sugar.
While about 80% of the allulose you eat is not used as fuel by the body, it still does provide a small number of calories; only about 0.2 calories per gram and a minimal amount of carbohydrates. This makes it a great choice as a natural sweetener for people following a keto diet, who want to control blood sugar or lose weight.
Allulose may also have some additional health benefits. It seems to not interact with gut bacteria as much as other sweeteners. It means that it does not seem to cause digestive problems such as gas or bloating. It may also have some anti-inflammatory properties, which could translate to a decrease in the risk of chronic diseases, although more research is needed.
This natural sweetener is about 70% as sweet as sugar and is pretty much identical in taste and texture. Note that it can be quite expensive compared to other calorie-free sweeteners and is not yet widely used in food or other products. More research is needed on the potential benefits of this rare carb. So far, it seems to hold some promise as a healthy natural sweetener.
Superlose®: A Blend of Natural Sweeteners
Although many of the natural sweeteners discussed above have some significant health benefits, we wanted to maximize them all. That’s why we created Superlose®. It combines the best of stevia extract, monk fruit, and allulose to create the perfect low carb sweetener. Combining the sweeteners reduces some of the odd flavor profiles of the individual products while keeping the final product low in carbs.
Superlose® can be used as a 1:1 substitute for sugar in beverages or desserts. Check out our delicious recipes on Instagram and our blog. One of our favorite recipes is this keto blueberry lemon cake that uses Superlose® as a sweetener. Although you have many different options for natural sweeteners, using a blend, like Superlose, helps you maximize the benefits of one-easy-to-use product.