Guide To Natural Sweeteners

Just thought I’d throw some nutritional info on my blog and then we can get back to perving out.

A lot of sweeteners that we think are healthy are not, they’re just like all the other “health” foods out there that aren’t good for us, but they’re packaged so neatly and say “organic” and “healthy” all over it we figure it must be good for us, right?

I avoid Splenda at all costs. My niece came out to visit the summer of 2006. I’d had a baby in February and she was starting her first year of high school in the fall and we both wanted to drop some weight.

Everything we had that was sweet contained sucralose (Splenda is the brand name). We sweetened our coffee with it, we baked goodies with it, we ate it straight out of the package. (that might have been an exaggeration) At the end of the summer, every time I exhaled, I tasted bleach. It scared me. Just typing this makes me nauseous remembering the taste. I have no idea why I tasted bleach, I just did. I will never, ever touch that stuff again. Even though white sugar makes me break out in a cold sweat and shoots my blood sugar through the roof, I’d rather have that than sucralose. (we did lose weight though, but I prefer a more natural approach now) In fact, I’ll take processed white table sugar over any artificial  sweetener.

My favorite sweetener is Rapadura. It does not affect my blood sugar, I don’t sweat and I really enjoy it in my coffee and teas and I like to cook with it. Raw honey and stevia are my next favorites for smoothies and teas, but I don’t think they’re as good for cooking.

The following sweeteners are used in many so-called health food products, but should be avoided.

Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup: These are highly refined products composed mostly of fructose. It is the fructose, not the glucose, part of sucrose that causes deleterious effects, especially in growing children.

Concentrated Fruit Juice: Fruit juices that have been boiled down are composed largely of fructose.

“Raw”, “Natural”, Turbinado and Sucanat Sugars* and Florida Crystals: These are all refined sugars from which the nutrients have been removed. Small amounts of molasses may be added back to give a light brown color.

*I’d like to note, sucanat is usually from dehydrated cane sugar only and that’s a good thing, but check the labels as there are a few people sneaking their refined sugar using a varient on the sucanat name and that’s why it’s in the bad list.

Acceptable sweeteners are below the fold.

Raw Honey: Honey that has not been heated over 117 degrees is loaded with amylases, enzymes that digest carbohydrates, as well as all the nutrients found in plant pollens. This makes it an ideal sweetener for porridge and toast, as the amylases in raw honey help digest grains. Glucose tolerance tests indicate that, for most people, honey does not upset blood sugar levels as severely as does refined sugar. Buy honey labeled “raw” and use it in desserts at do not require heating. Raw honey should not be given to infants as they lack sufficient stomach acid to deactivate bacteria spores.

Maple Syrup: The concentrated sap of huge deciduous trees, maple syrup is rich trace minerals, brought up from below ground by the tree’s deep roots. It imparts a wonderful flavor to cream-based desserts and may be used in baked goods, such as muffins and pancakes. Unfortunately, formaldehyde is used in the production of most commercial maple syrup.

Rapadura: Rapadura is the commercial name for dehyrated canesugarjuice, which the people of India have used for thousands of years. It is rich in minerals, particularly silica. Rapadura ha a wonderful flavor and closely mimics sugar in chemical properties. It gives the best results for cookies and cakes but be careful not to overdo- in large amounts Rapadura can upset the body chemistry just as much as sugar.

Stevia Powder: A sweet powder made from a South American herb, stevia can be used by those who are sensitive even to natural sweeteners. A little goes a very long way- a pinch of stevia powder will sweeten as effectively as a spoonful of sugar. (this is true, I learned this the hard way) As it does not add bulk, it is difficult to use successfully in baked goods; but stevia powder is a good sweetener for salad dressings, smoothis, whipped cream and pie crusts. (if you use too much it’s really flippin bitter and wash it off your hands because you don’t want to taste it later, seriously, it’s bitter)

Date Sugar: Made from nutritious dehydrated dates, it does not dissolve easily and it therefore unsuitable for many desserts. Its high tryptophan content makes it a good sweetener for hyperactive children, as this amino acid has a calming effect. Date sugar is delicious on porridge. (I have no idea whether it’s delicious or not, that’s what the author says, so I copied it)

Molasses: A “waste” product from the production of refined sugar, molasses has a strong taste and moderate sweetness. If extracted from sugar cane grown in well fertilized soils, it will contain many minerals, especially iron, calcium, zinc, copper and chromium.

Sorghum Syrup: A sweetener once popular in the Southern United States, sorghum syrup is made from sweet sorghum, a grain related to millet that grows on woody stalks to a height of 15 feet. The syrup is made by boiling the sorghum sap. It taks 8 to 12 gallons of sap to make one gallon of the syrup. Sorghum syrup contains B vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and phosphorous. It can used in place of maple syrup.

Naturally Sweetened Jams: Look for jams sweetened with dehydrated sugar cane juice rather than fructose or high fructose corn syrup.*

I’d like to stress that I don’t pick at my kids about what they eat when they go to parties or even to the neighbor’s house. I want them to enjoy themselves and not be freaks. I always felt so bad for the kids who’s mom’s were Nutrition Nazis and couldn’t even let their kids enjoy themselves at parties. You could see it in their poor little faces how disappointed they were. I’m not saying there’s a correlation here because I haven’t done any sort of study, however,  several of the kids I know who’s parents were so aggro with their eating became compulsive over-eaters later on. A little bit is not going to kill them. Why make their life suck because you decided to be a fruitloop? Just be a good example to them and make sure that when you’re at home you feed them well, but do treat them on occasion.

*calls kids inside to tell them to get ready to go to Chik-fil-A*

What? They have a great playground.

*All sweetener information that was not linked is from the book, “Nourishing Traditions”, by Sally Fallon.

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9 Comments

  1. I didn’t see xylitol on your list. Naturally occurring sugar made from birch trees and corn cobs. Has an antibacterial/anticavity effect.

    Also, it makes me crap like a pastry bag.

  2. Rapadura

    Raw Honey

    Date sugar

    You forgot the Brown Sugar!

    Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
    brown sugar, just like a black girl should

    Yeah, it all sounds pervy to me. You sure this was a nutrition post??

  3. I don’t know… sugar is like God to me. Can’t fuck with that. :)

  4. Sugar being my God is what got me looking like I do now. Oh and having four kids helped a tad.

    Yeah, it all sounds pervy to me. You sure this was a nutrition post??

    How is it you can make absolutely everything dirty? That was rhetorical, you really don’t have to answer that.

  5. Also, it makes me crap like a pastry bag.

    I’m sooo going to use that line. I don’t know where, but I’m going to.

  6. Now THAT was perverted, if you ask me.

    What a great video, huh?

  7. I use a pinch of stevia in my coffee in the morning. I use a little real maple syrup in my balsamic vinaigrette dressing and I use raw honey in my hot tea. That’s it. When I stopped using Splenda every day, I began to feel amazing. And food tastes better. I forgot how sweet an orange can be.

    Splenda uses manmade bleach in its process, the same kind of bleach you use to sanitize your bathroom tile. No wonder. I just googled Splenda and bleach. The horror.

  8. I can tell who never dabbled in illicit substances around here.

    You guys would be amazed what you can put in your system and in what quantities and still walk around.

    A little bleach is child’s play.

    Or so I’m told…

  9. Bleach aftertaste huh? That’s why you dumped your Splenda off on me.

    *furiously rewrites will*

    Btw, your father is really enjoying his coffee, cakes and cookies with Splenda

    *Increases life ins. policy on husband*


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