Saturday, May 14, 2011

Alternative sweeteners

Malitol  -  An accepted form of sugar-alcohol in the all-natural world, the "sugars" found in malitol are not used in the body as sugars, giving your blood pressure a rest, and that semi-same sweet taste.
Many all-natural companies are using malitol to sweeten their drink mixes, chewable supplements, or nutrition bars. 
Just like any sugar alcohol, malitol should be used in sparing amounts (according to your own unique body), as it can produce gastrointestinal discomfort.

Stevia  -  The calorie-free, carb-free, highly-concentrated, use-in-everything, all-natural sweetener.  Derived from the stevia plant leaves, (which can be grown in a planter in your own home) this potentially bitter herb is 30x sweeter than cane sugar.  The stevia herb, when dried and powdered, has a green color, and is known for its bitter after taste.  But after a de-bitterizing, all-natural process, the white powder is available to use in most anything. 
Hard to use in baked goods, there are special recipe books on just that

Coconut Palm Crystals  -  Very similarly "manufactured" as maple syrup from the sap of a maple tree, coconut palm crystals are made from the coconut palm tree sap.  Very low in glycemic value, thus safe for diabetics, it contains many B vitamins.
Taste-wise, it has a remote coconut flavor, but resembles the brown sugar taste, melting almost instantly on damp/hot products.  Makes a great lower-sugar glaze.

Xylitol  -  Derived from certain trees, Xylitol is not only a frucose-like sweetener with a lower glycemic index and a good, frucose-like taste, it has shown amazing properties for fighting bacteria, plaque, infections, and other oral symptoms.  Used now in many chewing gums, low-sugar products, sweetened chewable supplements, drink mixes, and available for baking.
But, even though it is hardly a sugar alcohol, it is still categorized as one, and has the same effects.  Too much xylitol, you get bloating, gas, and other gastrointestinal distress.  Studies show that beyond these complaints, it has no other negative effects on the gut.

Mesquite Powder  -  Raw from the jungles of Argentina, mesquite powder is a "sweetener" like none else.  With a somewhat nutty, brown-sugary taste, this is not just a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and acid lysine, but also of fiber.  For two Tablespoons, though you get 9g of sugar, you also get 6g of fiber, and 3g of protein!  A light tan powder, mesquite should be organic, with an interesting taste - almost like a chicory tree.

Inulin Powder  -  Inulin can be derived from multiple sources, and is long been considered safe for diabetics.  This white powder has a pleasant, herb-like texture, and tastes like a sugar alcohol, though not as concentrated.  Not as widely used as many sugar-substitutes, this has a low glycemic count, and is a good alternative for many people.

I thought I should say a word about sucrolose.  An artificial sweetener that many people think is safe.  
Sucrolose is derived from sucrose (sugar), and then chemically altered. That is never a good idea!

No comments: