Sweeteners 101



When we intend to embark on a healthy lifestyle journey and make a change in our diet towards an anti-inflammatory diet, we often let ourselves be guided by myths that we have always taken as true, but that in many cases are nothing more than that: simple myths. Perhaps, one of the food territories in which there are more mistakes and myths is that of sugar, since we have certain preconceived ideas about which are healthier or less 'fattening'... these ideas in reality have little or nothing to do with their true nutritional value.


On the contrary, there are some options other than sugar or sweeteners that we don't normally think of as a sweetener alternative that are perfect options to sweeten our coffees, bakery or smoothies.


Here are our top sweetener options:


If we want to sweeten coffee, for instance, a very healthy option is cinnamon. On the other hand, to sweeten pastries we can use date syrup, coconut sugar or fruits such as banana, unsweetened apple sauce, pear or roasted apple. However, we advise you to be conscious with the use of healthy ingredients that are highly caloric such as dates, and recommend not abusing their consumption as they can be equally caloric. Here are some of our favorite sweetener options:

Acceptable Sweeteners: honey, cinnamon, stevia, agave, coconut sugar, maple syrup, date syrup, honey, and monk fruit. Substitutes in pastry: dates, honey, raisins, fruit, dried fruit, cinnamon, coconut sugar.

Sweeteners to avoid at all costs: sugar (sucrose), fructose, brown sugar, cane sugar, panela, dextrose, corn syrups, glucose and fructose syrups, candies, and any other sweeteners with high sweetening power.


Beware of the "sugar free" label!

We already spoke on our "how to read nutrition facts label" article about how labeling can be misleading... this same thing happens with sweeteners. Supermarkets are packed with products labelled as "sugar-free", when in fact these versions are usually not even as healthy as their "sugar" versions. This is because what really makes a product healthy or not, is the set of ingredients that make it. Even if we have sugar-free cookies these products still contain inflammatory vegetable oils, refined flours and other ingredients that, although they are not called "sugar" in the ingredient list, are practically the same. And indeed, one of the main problems that we can find while shopping is not being able to correctly decipher what each term on the label means. In the case of sugar -as it happens with other ingredients-, we can find millions of terms that basically mean the same thing. What are some of the words behind sugar? Sucrose, splenda, sugar alcohols which are any names ending with "lol", sucralose, sweet and low, aspartame, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, dextrose, panela, fruit concentrate, cane sugar, dextrin, maltodextrin, honey, malt syrup, molasses and lactose... among others.