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Natural sweeteners

Many people across the world have a weakness for sweet foods. These sweet foods provide a satisfying taste in the mouth. The taste also triggers a reaction in the brain which releases some energy. This energy is released because the taste of sugar suggests to the brain that carbohydrates have been ingested into the system. However, most of the sweet food consumed these days is prepared with refined sugar.

Refined sugar is easy to store and use and provides a delicious sweetness to the food that it is added to. While this may be palatable, the reality is that refined sugar is lacking in any real nutrition. The body is therefore led to believe that nutrition is available and the mind is satisfied with the taste of sweetness. This is not a serious problem if there is real nutrition being consumed in most meals. However, when meals are consumed that contain little nutritional value, the sugar content tends to create a false sense of satisfaction which leads to the body accumulating fat without being fed with any real nutrition. This is what creates the really dangerous situation where people are accumulating fat but are, at the same time, not receiving the correct nutrition. By substituting the processed sugar with natural sweeteners, we can take care of the sweet craving while maintaining a healthy diet.

There are many different natural sweeteners that can be used and substituted into recipes. One of the commonly available sweeteners is Sucanat. Sucanat literally stands for Sugar Cane Natural. This is a natural form of sugar extracted from the sugarcane plant. While processed sugar is also made from sugarcane, Sucanat is a much more natural form of sugar. The process for producing Sucanat is fairly simple. The sugarcane plant is squeezed for its sweet sugarcane juice. This juice is then heated and cooled in such a way that it forms into a grainy powder. It appears brown in color and may have a slightly different taste from normal refined sugar. However, it retains most of the nutrition that is available in fresh sugarcane juice. This is a desirable situation because one is providing both nutrition and sweetness to one’s craving.

Another sweetener in the list of organic sweeteners is unprocessed honey. Honey is thick and is a translucent liquid in its natural form. This form of honey may be filtered to remove some contaminants. For commercial sale, producers tend to heat the honey for many hours in order to pasteurize it. This eliminates a lot of the natural goodness of the nectar. Unprocessed honey is as tasty as processed honey. It does, however, provide a greater nutritional benefit to the consumer by maintaining the enzyme balance of the original honey.

Some consumers do not like to use honey because of various ethical or personal reasons. For them, agave nectar is a useful substitute. This nectar is drawn from the agave plant and is noted for its powerful sweetening property. Agave nectar also dissolves easily in water, making it an ideal additive for sweetened drinks. Agave nectar, being all natural, is a healthy alternative to refined sugar.

Stevia natural sweetener is the sweetening agent extracted from a plant indigenous to South America. It is an extremely potent sweetening agent. This means that a smaller quantity can be added for the same amount of sweetness to be gained. This automatically reduces the carbohydrate content of the sweetened item.

The above two sweeteners Agave and Stevia are effective natural sweeteners for diabetics. Agave is extremely low on the glycemic index scale and releases its sugar slowly into the body. Stevia, as mentioned, is needed in small quantities making it effective at sweetening and good for diabetics as well.

Submitted on January 16, 2014