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If Not Sugar, Than What? Sweeteners That are Healthier Than Sugar -- and Which Will Save Your Life

Improve your health and wellness by eliminating sugar in all its insidious forms from your life, replacing it with one of several healthy sweetener alternatives.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Live sugar-free. Live longer. Live healthier.

Sugar -- in all its forms (granular, powdered, brown, raw, cane, beet, fructose, dextrose, dextrin, glucose, corn syrup, molasses, honey, and others) -- is a proven health hazard that adversely impacts our health by increasing our blood sugar levels, affecting insulin production, promoting tooth decay, adversely impacting mental disorders and depression, swelling inflammation in our bodies, and promoting cancer cell growth... In other words, sugar use can lead to major health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.

You might even think you don't consume much sugar, but sugar is hidden in many of the foods you buy and consume. In fact, most estimates show that each of us consume about 150 pounds -- POUNDS -- of sugar annually.

If you choose to make only one change to your diet, eliminating all forms of sugar will give you the greatest impact on improving your health.

This article shows you how to eliminate sugar from your diet by helping you choose a sugar replacement. While most folks talk about finding a sugar substitute, that word makes it sound as though you have to sacrifice something -- choose something inferior. On the contrary, almost any other sweetener is healthier for you than sugar... thus, this article is about finding a replacement for sugar, an alternative better than sugar, not a substitute.

One final note given several articles raising the question of whether sugar alternatives lead to weight gain. On the contrary, products such as Stevia and Splenda not only help people rid themselves of sugar, but also help in reducing calories and carbohydrates -- two key factors in helping people lose weight.

Natural Sugar Replacements

Nutritional experts have often recommended one natural sweetener for people interested in eating healthier.

Stevia. This natural no-calorie herb, which has just recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for food use, has been a mainstay in health food stores for decades -- and used widely in South America for centuries. Stevia can be used for both baking and sweetening hot or cold drinks -- with no aftertaste. While newer brands have it the supermarket shelves, we still support what we consider the best stevia brand -- Sweetleaf Stevia Plus, which adds inulin fiber to help nourish the friendly bacteria (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) found in your intestines, providing many health benefits. Once you start using stevia, you'll never know why you didn't switch to it sooner! (Other brand names include Simply Stevia, Stevia Supreme, and the newer PureVia and Truvia.) Currently, several national brands are testing products made with stevia in place of sugar.

Top Sugar Replacements

Health food producers and manufacturers -- and even some mainstream brands -- have used several types of sugar alternatives for years.

Sucralose. The top-performing sugar replacement in recent years is sucralose, a non-calorie sweetener that is actually derived from sugar. In 20 years of studies, it has not been shown to cause any known health conditions. Because of the way its altered, the body does not recognize it as a carbohydrate nor can it be absorbed for energy. It can be used for baking and sweetening both hot and cold drinks and has no aftertaste. Companies such as Atkins, Diet Rite, Coca-Cola, and The Cheesecake Factory use sucralose in some of their sugar-free products. The national brand name of sucralose is Splenda.

Sugar Alcohols (Polyols). These low-calorie (some are actually no-calorie) sugar replacements, which are neither sugars nor alcohols, are incompletely absorbed and metabolized by the body, and consequently contribute fewer calories than sugar. The most commonly used sugar alcohols include erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol. These sweeteners are used in a large number of products manufactured for diabetic and low-carbohydrate diets. The one downside to many of the traditional sugar alcohols is that they can cause gas buildup, bloating, and laxative effects when consumed in large amounts. Most sugar alcohols do not have brand names since they are used only in the manufacturing of low-calorie foods, but there are a few you can buy as sweeteners, including ZSweet, Zerose, and MaltiSweet.

Swerve. A natural no-calorie sugar substitute made from a unique combination of ingredients derived from fruits and vegetables. Swerve contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or flavors. While it does have no calories, it DOES still have carbs. The secret the sweetness is a combination of erythritol (a sugar alochol) and oligosaccharides. According to the manufacturer, Swerve does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels.

Other, Older Sugar Replacements

The mainstays of folks wanting to replace sugar in years past have been the artificial sweeteners aspartame and saccharin. While there is nothing wrong with either of these sweeteners -- and they are certainly better than sugar -- they still are chemicals rather than natural substances.

Aspartame. While generally regarded as a safe chemical compound, it is not safe for people with phenylketonuria (PKU). It was first approved for consumption in 1981 and has been thoroughly tested. It is extremely sweet, with a caloric count similar to that of sugar. National brand names include NutraSweet, Equal.

Saccharin. First discovered in 1879, this artificial sweetener was considered a high cancer risk for most of the last few decades when rats were found to develop cancer from ingesting the sweetener in high doses. Later studies showed no connection between the cancer and saccharin and since 2000 the U.S. government no longer consideres it a potential cancer-causing agent. National brand names include Sweet 'N Low, SugarTwin.

Final Thoughts on Non-Sugar Sweeteners

Non-sugar sweeteners such as stevia and Splenda can assist you in cutting calories and carbs to help manage your weight, reduce the many health risks associated with sugar consumption, manage medical conditions such as diabetes, and prevent tooth decay.

Warning! Be careful of the very trendy Agave Nectar. Marketed as produced from the extract of the wild agave plant's sap, it is not natural nor is it from the agave nector; instead, it is harvested from the agave root. This product is extremely unhealthy because it is basically a combination of sugars -- consisting primarily of fructose and glucose -- and is high in calories. In fact, studies show it is higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup.

One of the most important things you can and should do for your health -- for your physical and mental well-being -- is eliminate sugar in all its insidious forms from your diet. Refined and processed sugars are truly health hazards -- and lurk in many of the foods found in the grocery aisles (including catsup, sauces and gravies, salad dressings, and so much more).

Finally, for those looking to manage your weight, do remember that just because a product is sugar-free it does not mean it's healthy for you or that it is low in calories or low in fat. Learn to read nutrition labels carefully.

Other Diet/Nutrition Tips

Wondering what else besides sugar you should eliminate from your diet? What other evils lurk in your kitchen? Read our article, Purge Your Pantry to Pursue Health and Wellness.

And on the flip side, here are the foods you should be adding to your diet: Live Longer. Eat Healthier Daily. Best Foods for You, A-Z.

Interested in reprinting or republishing this article? Please refer to our Article Reprint Guidelines.

Avid wellness guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, adventurist, environmentalist, and student of wellness and photography, with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is Founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites. Dr. Hansen is also the founder and caretaker of this site, EmpoweringRetreat.com, as well as founder of EmpoweringAdvice.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com or reach him by email at CEO(at)empoweringsites.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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