Sugar is heavily ingrained in our food system today, but what can be even more overwhelming is the number of sugar substitutes you can choose from. Should you use sugar alternatives? Are they better than sugar? And how do you pick the best one(s) for you?
If there was an award for the most overused food ingredient with the least nutritional value, sugar would likely win in a cakewalk.
I’m not talking about sugars naturally found in fruits and vegetables. I’m talking about added sugars — mainly plain ‘ol white sugar and its troublesome twin, high-fructose corn syrup.
There’s really nothing beneficial about sugar — besides the temporary appeasement of your taste buds — but most of us eat way more of it than we should.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine per day for men. But the average American consumes 94 grams every day or over 350 pounds a year.
So, what about alternative sweeteners or sugar substitutes?
Approximately 145 million people in the United States are estimated to have used sugar substitutes in 2018. Sugar substitutes attract consumers because they’re labeled as being naturally derived, or calorie-free, or simply because they’re not sugar.
But what are sugar substitutes made of? And how do they rank in nutritional value? Are certain sugar substitutes better for you than others?
Before I get into all of that, let’s examine why sugar is not a health food.