Natural Sweeteners

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made from the sugary circulating fluid (sap) of maple trees.

There are several different “grades” of maple syrup, depending on the color. .In the United States, maple syrup is either classified as grade A or grade B .

  • Grade A is further categorized into 3 groups: Light Amber, Medium Amber and Dark Amber.
  • Grade B is the darkest of them all.

The main thing that sets maple syrup apart from refined sugar, is the fact that it also contains some minerals and antioxidants, is a good source of manganese.

The glycemic index of maple syrup seems to be around 54, compared to table sugar which has a glycemic index of around 65 .This is a good thing and implies that maple syrup raises blood sugar slower than regular sugar.

Several studies have found that maple syrup is a decent source of antioxidants. One study found 24 different antioxidant substances in maple syrup.The darker syrups (like Grade B) contain more of these beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups.

The active compounds in maple syrup have been shown to help reduce the growth of cancer cells and may slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract.

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Molasses

Molasses is the dark, sweet, syrupy byproduct made during the extraction of sugars from sugarcane and sugar beets. Molasses can vary in color, sweetness, and nutritional content depending on the variety or how much sugar has been extracted.

Because molasses is the leftover components of sugarcane juice after sugar is extracted, it contains a concentrated level of the vitamins and minerals that were present in the sugarcane itself.

Molasses is particularly prized for its iron content, although it also contains other important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as antioxidant properties.


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Sorghum (sweet sorghum)

Sorghum is made from sweet sorghum, a particular variety naturally high in sugar. Sorghum is a type of grass that came originally from Africa but is now grown in America.

It is a source of certain minerals including calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc. It also contains B vitamins and antioxidants.

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Rapadura or Sucanat

Rapadura is the Portuguese name referring to a form of raw unadulterated dried (evaporated) sugarcane juice that is formed into a large brick.  Rapadura is made by first extracting the juice from the sugar cane (using a press), and then stirring the juice with paddles while the water is evaporated out of the juice using very low heats.  It has not been boiled at high heats (like all other sugars), nor spun to change it into crystals, and the molasses has not been separated from the sugar.  Traditionally, the dried juice is formed into a brick for transport.· Modern methods now grind the sugar in a sieve, leaving a very dark brown colored grainy sugar.  Rapadura is produced organically, and does not contain chemicals or anti-caking agents.This type of sugar is also sold under the U.S. trade name Sucanat, which stands for Sugar Cane Natural.

Sucanat sugar alternative  is filled with vitamins and minerals such as Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin A and many other nutrients, like antioxidants.

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Stevia

Stevia is a natural, zero calorie sweetener that can lower both blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It is extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana.

There are several sweet compounds found in Stevia leaves, the main ones are Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. Both are many hundred times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram. Stevia is very sweet, but has virtually no calories.

There are some studies in humans showing Stevia to have health benefits:

  • When blood pressure is high, Stevia can lower it by 6-14%. However, it has no effect on blood pressure that is normal or only mildly elevated.
  • Stevia has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.

There are also studies in rats showing that Stevia can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol and reduce plaque build up in the arteries.

To sweeten something, Stevia may be the healthiest choice. However, many people really hate the taste of Stevia, and It does depend on the brand, is just the stevia flavour.

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Coconut/Palm Sugar

Coconut sugar is also called Coconut Palm Sugar.

It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with Palm Sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree.

Coconut sugar contains several nutrients, most notable of these are the minerals Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits.

Then it contains a fiber called Inulin, which may slow glucose absorption and explain why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar.

For this reason, coconut sugar supplies almost the same amount of fructose as regular sugar, gram for gram.

It is very similar to regular table sugar, although the manufacturing process is more natural and it also contains some minor amounts of nutrients to go with it.

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Honey

Honey is a real food that has been accessible to humans throughout evolutionary history and can still be obtained in its natural form.Honey bees swarm around their environment to collect Nectar, which are sugar-rich liquids from plants.

A few cycles of this ends with what we know as honey, but the composition and nutritional properties depend on the sources of the Nectar, i.e. which flowers are in the vicinity of the beehive.

A study in healthy, diabetic and hyperlipidemic subjects revealed that :

  1. Honey raised blood sugar less than dextrose (glucose) and sucrose (glucose and fructose). It still did raise blood sugar, just not as much.
  2. Honey reduced C-Reactive Protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation.
  3. Honey lowered LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides and raised HDL cholesterol.

Unrefined honey contains an abundance of various antioxidants that can have major implications for health. Generally speaking, antioxidants in the diet are associated with improved health and lower risk of disease.

Two human studies revealed that consumption of buckwheat honey increases the antioxidant value of the blood.

Honey may have some medicinal properties when applied to the skin, killing bacteria and speeding the healing of wounds.

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Erythritol

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is very sweet, but low in calories. Studies show that it is very safe to eat, although it can cause digestive problems at high doses.

It is a sugar alcohol that is found naturally in certain fruits, but if you’re buying powdered erythritol then it will most likely be made via an industrial process.

Erythritol doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin levels and has no effect on biomarkers like cholesterol or triglycerides.

It is absorbed into the body from the intestine, but eventually excreted from the kidneys unchanged.Studies show that erythritol is very safe. However, same as with other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive issues if you consume too much at a time.

Erythritol tastes very much like sugar, although it can have a mild aftertaste.

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Xylitol

Xylitol is a very popular sweetener. It is a sugar alcohol, with about 2.4 calories per gram. It has some dental benefits and may improve bone density and lower the risk of osteoporosis.

Xylitol appears to have some benefits for dental health, reducing the risk of cavities and dental decay.

It may also improve bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis**. Xylitol doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels.

However, as with other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive side effects at high doses.

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Yacon Syrup

Yacon syrup is very high in fructooligosaccharides, which feed the good bacteria in the intestine. It may be helpful against constipation and may help you lose weight. It is harvested from the Yacon plant, which grows natively in the Andes in South America.

This sweetener has recently become popular as a weight loss supplement, because one study found that it caused significant weight loss in overweight women.

It is very high in fructooligosaccharides, which function as soluble fibers that feed the good bacteria in the intestine.

Yacon syrup can help against constipation and it has various benefits due to the high amount of soluble fiber.

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