Being in the business of feeding people I am acutely aware of what I feed myself and am increasingly aware that what we feed ourselves affects our well being in so many ways. I’ve recently been trying to find new healthier ways to get that ‘sugar’ fix without the sugar and without all those poisonous artificial sweeteners. Did you know saccharine was banned because it was found to cause bladder cancer? It is, however, still allowed as an ‘at the table’ additive.
Did you know that there is a government agency that has listed over 160 symptoms and reasons to avoid the consumption of aspartame? Did you know that pre-approval research on sucralose showed shrunken thymus glands and enlarged livers and kidneys?
Do browser searches on each sweetener and you will find a wealth of information on why you should avoid the three artificial sweeteners like the plague.
So what’s the alternative? For about a year now I have been using Sucanat as much as possible. Sucanat is dehydrated sugar cane juice – that is not refined sugar. While Sucanat is still ‘sugar’ it is not refined so it contains certain vitamins and minerals which offset the deleterious effects of it’s refined form. Still, it’s not quite so good for you but miles better than refined sugar though not a good sub for diabetics.
Most recently, I’ve been exploring two alternate sweeteners: Stevia and Xylitol. First I’ll write about Stevia Stevia is an herb native to Paraguay. The leaves are very sweet – in fact it is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar. You can find it in it’s natural form – ground leaves or in an extract form. I bought a small jar of Stevia extract to try from my local Vitamin Shoppe and also noticed it’s available at Trader Joe’s. So far I’ve used it to sweeten drinks and it has worked great. Not the exact taste of sugar but pretty darn close with no unpleasant after taste. I’ve read that different brands can taste slightly different so try out a few brands as you may prefer one to the other. Next I’ll be experimenting with stevia in baking. So far I’ve concluded that Stevia is a great sugar alternative and is a great alternative for diabetics. Do a browser search and find out about Stevia’s intriguing history and why it hasn’t been readily available until recently – could it have to do with not being able to patent natural substances and a certain corporation convincing the FDA Stevia should be kept out of the country even though places like Japan have been using it safely for over 40 years? The current artificial sweetener market – made up of chemical substances patented by large chemical companies is a multi-billion dollar industry afterall. More later about Xylitol.