Consuming less sugar is a surefire way to cut back on calories, and for many that means using low or no calorie artificial sweeteners instead. There is news, however, that practitioners of this substitution should now proceed with caution. A recent study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that sucralose, the key ingredient in Splenda and other artificial sweeteners, may have adverse effects on health, specifically on the body’s insulin response system. Today’s Daily Bite video originally appeared on Huffington Post, and provides a little more insight into the issue. Take a look!
The timing of this news is very unfortunate considering the fact that it’s the start of iced coffee and lemonade season. But before you get too sad about the truth behind those yellow packets, check out these alternatives and how you can incorporate them into your favorite summer beverages!
1. Stevia – Stevia is a sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant and is about 300 times as sweet as sugar! It is a great calorie free option, although it is noted that some varieties can have a strong licorice-like or bitter aftertaste. It is widely available in both liquid and powder forms. Check out some of these recipes from SweetLeaf, a manufacturer of stevia-based sweeteners.
2. Agave nectar - Produced from the agave plant (the same source as tequila!), agave nectar is another flavorful option. The jury is still out on whether agave can be labeled as a “healthy” alternative to regular sugar as it contains high amounts of fructose and has 60 calories per tablespoon. However, it is about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, so less can be used to achieve the same level of sweetness. It is also low-glycemic, meaning that it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which can lead to more sustained energy. Try using it the next time you make a margarita, like this one from Bon Appétit!
3. Blackstrap molasses – Blackstrap is a very dark molasses that is the remnant of the third boiling of sugar cane in the production of table sugar. While it is a sucrose-based sweetener and therefore contains calories, it is unique in that it is a significant source of vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese. Its rich, dark flavor can take some getting used to, but this recipe from HFR Living shows how it can mimic the taste of iced coffee!
What’s your sweetener of choice? Share with us below!