Artificial Vs Natural Sweeteners: Why Lo Han Guo is best
Reverting to a sugar-free lifestyle has made many of us to turn to artificial or natural sweeteners/sugars. Artificial sweeteners once upon a time were all the rage until researchers discovered some negatives. Since, there has been a rise in natural sweeteners/sugars, which again some are not as angelic as first thought… within this article we will go through various sweeteners and point out the good and the bad.
Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame & Sucralose
Probably the most widely used sweeteners, most commonly used in diet drinks, protein powders and packaged foods. Although some articles have surfaced to suggest that aspartame is the most dangerous substance on the market! Symptoms associated with artificial sweeteners include headaches, irritability, nausea and insomnia (www.articles.mercola.com, 2011). Research has also suggested that artificial sugars can lead to overconsumption of food which in turn leads to weight gain due to their association with sugar cravings (Yang, 2010).
Although a better alternative to table sugar, at the end of the day it is still sugar. Coconut sugar is made up of 71% sucrose (table sugar), 3% pure glucose and 3% pure fructose. Studies have shown that coconut sugar can reduce blood glucose levels compared to sugar as it contains inulin (Trinidad, 2015), nevertheless there is still a rise. Hence, a better alternative to sugar but if consuming regularly and/or in high amounts it may not be as healthy as implied.
Agave is produced from a cactus-like plant, once believed to be a ‘healthy’ sugar alternative. However, new methods of extracting this syrup means that it is very similar to high fructose corn syrup. Although fructose is a slow releasing sugar it does have a negative influence on insulin resistance, which raises the risk of diabetes. Research also demonstrates too much fructose can also be detrimental to oral health (Gardner, 2017).
You may have come across xyitol in sweets and sugar-less chewing gum. Xylitol is found within fruits and vegetables in very small amounts, which is very safe. However when consumed in high amounts, some have complained of certain symptoms including bloating, gas and diarrhoea.
Stevia is extracted from the leaf of the Stevia plant. This natural sweetener is regarded as safe, although it has come under some scrutiny due to bitter aftertaste and gastrointestinal (bloating, tummy upset ect.) issues.
Honey, Maple Syrup, Rice Syrup
Clever marketing ploys are used to make the consumer believe that by swapping from sugar to other forms that they will be reducing their sugar intake. However they’re really just that, other forms of sugar (Diabetes UK). Don’t be fooled to thinking that if you replace sugar with these sources you will be reducing your blood sugar levels and risk towards type 2 diabetes.
Lo Han Guo
Lo Han Guo or Monk Fruit has been shown by studies to contain anti-inflammatory properties, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, digestive problems (e.g. IBS) and coughs and colds (Di et al, 2011). Lo Han Guo has also been shown to have a positive effect on managing blood glucose levels which is great news for those effected by diabetes (Ying et al, 2009).