Earlier this week in our post “Organic Cane Sugar vs Other Sweeteners: Part 1“, we told you about the benefits of organic cane sugar and the dangers of white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Here in Part 2 we will discuss more organic cane sugar alternatives: some that withstand scrutiny and others that do not.
Now, let’s get the bad news out of the way…
THE FAKE, THE BAD, AND THE DEADLY
Millions of people around the world are suffering from fake sugar syndrome, which is characterized by migraine headaches, low moods, joint and muscle soreness, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, tinnitus, vision problems, nausea, dementia, brain cancer, and fibromyalgia.
The most notorious of all phony sweeteners is aspartame, which was initially classified with foreboding accuracy by non-health professionals as a sugar of mass destruction. In spite of the FDA finally lifting the stevia ban in late 2008, aspartame is still the king of the hill in the zero-calorie sweetener category. It’s a legalized neurotoxic additive that can potentially lead to Parkinson’s disease, lymphoma, low thyroid function, lupus, multiple sclerosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and yes, even cancer.
Aspartame has even found its way to some chewable vitamins. Vitamin supplements, if anything, should be life-sustaining and health-promoting dietary adjuncts. That’s it. They shouldn’t be a mixture of good and evil. Toxic additives, binders, excipients, and fillers should never be present in vitamin pills, or your body may just use up the vitamins and minerals themselves in counteracting the negative health effects of harmful supplement ingredients. The nutrients are meant to help fill in the nutrition gap caused by poor diet and other negative lifestyle habits that lead to nutritional deficiencies. You end up wasting the nutrients (not to mention your money) and putting your health at risk when you swallow supplements with carcinogenic ingredients such as aspartame.
But aspartame isn’t the only sweetener in the fake bad sugar department.
THE THREE HEADS OF CERBERUS: Acesulfame K, saccharine, and sucralose
Acesulfame K is not as popular as other artificial sweeteners but is just as widely present as aspartame in the market. It garners the second highest score in the toxicity meter next to aspartame. Acesulfame K contains methylene chloride,a known carcinogen that depression, liver damage, nausea, renal problems, mental confusion, and of course, cancer.
Saccharine is the godfather of all zero-calorie sweeteners and is still a popular sugar substitute despite the long-standing controversial issues regarding its safety. Saccharine is a coal tar-derived artificial sweetener that has been linked to bladder cancer.
Sucralose is chlorinated sucrose that triggers lipogenesis and induces the death of beneficial bacteria. This is not surprising for 2 reasons: (1) chlorine has been linked to weight gain; (2) the abrasive and toxic disinfecting chemical was added to municipal tap water to kill microorganisms (apparently it doesn’t spare even the beneficial ones).
Ask yourself, are the risks worth it?
We’ve discussed organic cane sugar, how it contains 17 amino acids, 11 minerals, and 6 vitamins, including beneficial antioxidants, and how it remains one of the most affordable wholesome sweetener on the market – but it isn’t the only one out there worth consuming.
Coconut sugar and coconut nectar are both derived from the sap of the coconut tree. Coconut nectar is a low GI liquid sweetener that is slowly gaining popularity in certain health circles. Because it is usually sold unpasteurized and is left to age for a while prior to bottling it is richer in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes compared to coconut sugar, which is boiled and undergoes the same evaporation method as cane sugar. Coconut-derived sweeteners in the US market are also imported, making them more expensive than most healthy sweeteners.
Yacon syrup is made by boiling and evaporating the extract of the yacon tuber. Yacon syrup contains 50% fructotooligosaccharides and has only 20 calories per tablespoon, an amount significantly lower compared to the calories in honey, maple syrup, and molasses. Studies suggest that yacon has hypoglycemic and antiadipogenic benefits. For these reasons yacon syrup is the obvious winner in the liquid sweetener face-off versus high fructose corn syrup.
Chicory root extract, lo han, and lucuma are other healthy low-carb sweeteners. Chicory root has been getting a lot of positive attention due to its remarkable benefits such as benefiting blood sugar levels, promoting weight control, and creating healthy gut microflora, making it the Red Riding Hood to sucralose’s Big Bad Wolf. Lo han is an African herb with zero calories, while lucuma is a low GI South American fruit in powdered form. Compared to chicory root, lo han and lucuma are a bit hard to find. Not all brick-and-mortar and online health stores carry them.
Stevia is a natural calorie-free sweetener that comes from the herb of the same name. If organic cane sugar is the healthy substitute for table sugar, stevia is the winning sweetener in the zero-calorie showdown against aspartame. Stevia also happens to be one of the really few nutritive zero-calorie sweeteners at the moment. The problem is that stevia is not as mass-produced or as cheap as other wholesome sugars because demands for it are not as high. Stevia is also not aggressively marketed and promoted like the pseudo-sugars that follow.
White sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and other pseudo-sugars have become ubiquitous across the world, particularly in the US. It can seem overwhelming and near impossible to avoid them. Some of us aren’t even aware of their presence within what we consume, while others have simply given up hope of escape. But there are alternatives to these potentially damaging substances, alternatives that are not nearly as hard to find as we may believe. We urge you to seek the advice of a trusted nutritionist or health care professional to determine which may be best for you.