The Best and Worst Raw Food Sweeteners

In an age where diabetes –whether Type 1 or Type 2 – is sweeping the globe, the pressure to find better and healthier alternatives to sweeteners is stronger now more than ever. This generation has seen all kind of sugar-free and low sugar products surface to fuel the consumer’s passion to consume healthier food and beverages. Companies feel that by providing a sugar-free alternative, they are becoming more responsible and promoting better health. But the question we ask is this: are the artificial sweeteners in the market doing us more harm than good?

Sweeteners Can Promote Cancer

Research papers and medical journals are claiming that aside from diabetes, sugars may also be responsible for the spike in the incidences of cancer. A 2010 study published in the Journal Cancer research said that certain types of sweeteners, whether artificial or natural, could actually feed cancer cells and make them multiply much faster. Of course, this does not mean that people should avoid sugar altogether. Besides sticking to what we all know, that moderation is key, it is also important to find better and healthier sugars that we can incorporate to our daily diets.

Raw food diets are all the rage too. As the name implies, raw food advocates go for real and unprocessed and or unfiltered food products. They are against food being heated and cooked since it alters the composition of foods. Understandably, raw food advocates do not eat meat. Their push for natural food also applies to sweeteners. They do not consume processed sugar and other similar products. It is a strict and stringent routine that requires dedication and commitment. For them, finding the right raw food sweetener is an even bigger challenge. Raw food advocates do what they do not just because of vanity and health reasons. For them it is a conscious decision to eat healthy and consume only sustainable food.‬For raw food advocates, raw food sweeteners must really be all natural and must not be “processed” to preserve the integrity of the product.The standing debate here is that “heating” affects the natural fibers and composition of say, agave nectar or honey, and the end product is no longer 100% raw.

What then is raw sugar?

Raw sugar comes from sugar cane. It is in fact what is left after molasses has been extracted from the sugar cane and then processed to become sugar crystals. The residue is a toasty and slightly smokey substance that tastes similar to brown sugar. Raw sugar is said to be better for the body because it contains natural molds and fibers. The coarse and dry sugar from the Demerara region in Guyana is called the Demerara Sugar. The moist and fine textured counterpart is called Turbinado Sugar, while the raw sugar that has been cleaned by steam is called the Barbados sugar. If you’re interested to try raw food sweeteners but find it difficult to source these three kinds, there are plenty of other options that you can try.
Let’s take a closer look at the nest and worst raw food sweeteners in the market today.

The Best Raw Food Sweeteners:

Dates
Yummy and flavorful dates are a great way to sweeten up desserts and smoothies. It has potassium and is high in fiber. But that’s about where its health benefits end. According to research, dates have a glycemic index score of 103 and it is naturally high in sugars. So if you do want to use dates in your desserts, you may only use 2 or 3 pieces at most.

Stevia
Stevia is a medicinal herb found to have zero fat, zero calories and plenty of nutrients. Its sweetening properties was first discovered in the 90s but was included in the banned list of imports in the United States. It is now sold in packets as a natural sweetener in most countries around the world. One point again Stevia is its after taste. A lot of raw food advocates find that it affects the taste of desserts and dishes and refrain from using it. However, if you just need to sweeten a cup of tea or yoghurt, this will do the job nicely.

Raw Honey
Honey has long been touted as a healthy food. It is naturally sweet because it comes from the nectar of flowers and is naturally harvested by honeybees. Honey has a lot of good properties that go beyond it being a sweetener. It can be used as is, or drizzled onto drinks and other desserts. Its glycemic index rating is a pretty respectable 45-85. Besides having plenty of uses, honey also possesses vitamins and minerals.

Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is not exactly raw, but it is good to use in raw cooking. The source of the syrup is the maple tree and once the sap is collected it is cooked and heat reduced. Maple syrup tastes good and contains zinc and manganese. It is a favorite accompaniment to pancakes and other desserts.

Yacon Syrup
Another new entrant in the sweetener market, Yacon syrup is also derived from natural sources. It comes from the root of the Yacon plant and is said to be tadaaa! Glucose- free! The lowly Yacon is also said to be high in inulin, which is a form of complex sugar. As you may already know, complex sugars are much slower to break down and process than simple sugars. Ultimately, it helps the human body by promoting better digestion and overall colon health. As for the taste and flavor, Yacon syrup is said to resemble molasses.

Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is also known as palm sugar. It is an unrefined product made of young coconut sap. Instead of being turned into wine, the sap from coconut flowers is harvested and exposed to heat. When the water has evaporated, the resulting substance is called palm sugar. Like Yacon syrup, it is also high in inulin and also contains a lot of nutrients. Coming from “The Tree of Life”, coconut sugar also contains anti oxidants, fatty acids and polyphenols.
All in all, one can say that there are plenty of raw food sweeteners to choose from. While none of them are out and out bad, we would recommend taking sweeteners in moderation too. All in the name of good health!

The Worst Sweetener You Can Try

Agave Nectar
There is serious argument as to whether Agave nectar is really good for the body since it is said to contain very high percentages of fructose. The nectar comes from the Agave plant, yes it is the same plant, which is used to make tequila, and it is processed to come up with a sweet and syrup-y substance. High fructose is what triggers insulin resistance and fatty live disease. While agave nectar tastes good, experts recommend avoiding foods and beverages sweetened with it. And, if you have it at home, they advise to use it sparingly – or not at all.

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