There has been a lot of 'hype' recently about the safety of artificial sweeteners with some disturbing research into aspartame. Whilst government recommendations remain the same suggesting the safety of chemical sweeteners, there is a lot of controversial information and scientific evidence that suggests differently.
We are continually being made aware that the vitamins and minerals found in food are better for us and easier for our bodies to digest than taking supplements. If we are to believe this, then it makes sense that including more fresh natural products and reducing chemical artificial products in our diet has to be a healthier option.
Here are a couple of alternative sweeteners that are considered to be safe for diabetics. You may need to check out your local whole foods shop or go online to find them.
Stevia is a natural plant-derived sweetener which has passed routine testing for safety. It will not raise blood sugar levels so it is recommended for diabetics.
Xylitol and Erythritol are found in the fibres of fruit and some other plants including mushrooms. They are absorbed into the blood stream more slowly than sugar and are low in carbohydrate. Rather than being stored in the body they are eliminated efficiently in the urine. However these sweeteners should be introduced slowly into the diet to allow the body to adjust to their natural laxative effect.
Chicory Root Inulin is a fibre which has beneficial probiotic properties for a healthy digestive tract and systemic cleansing. It is low in carbohydrate and does not raise blood sugar levels.
Xylitol looks and tastes like sugar. It has less of an impact on blood sugar levels because it is low GI, meaning it gives a sweet taste without the resulting 'rush' that regular sugar gives. It's lower in calories and doesn't cause dental decay. You can use it as a substitute in many recipes [ratio 1:1], but not those which use yeast as a raising agent. Cakes sweetened with xylitol don't colour very much, not a problem for coffee or chocolates cakes.
This requires more experimentation when using it. It makes things sweeter and dryer. It gums and binds and reacts differently with different substances.. Its also important to recognize that fibre is very healthy in the right quantities and like most things if we have too much of it, it will have a detrimental effect. (gas and possibly diarrhea).
Use inulin fiber from chicory root, cup for cup as a sugar substitute. The final product will not be as sweet, but it will be much higher in fiber.
Reduce your baking time when adding inulin fiber to your recipe. Inulin contains fructan chains that may speed up the caramelization of the crust during baking, giving your baked goods a crunchy brown crust in a shorter amount of time. Do not adjust baking temperature.
Inulin fiber is a soluble fiber not absorbed by the body that aids in digestion and may accelerate baking time. It does have a slightly sweet flavor, but it is not nearly as sweet as stevia and may not be a good sugar substitute.
Stevia is a non-caloric herbal sweetener that can be purchased in both powder and liquid form. It is safe to heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and is used as a sugar substitute.
Adjust the baking time when using stevia, if necessary, because the batter will be wetter and may require a slightly longer bake time. Start with the suggested baking time and insert a toothpick to test. Increase time by two to three minutes if needed. Do not use stevia in baking yeast breads or other leavened baked goods. Yeast feeds on sugar and the bread will not rise without real sugar.
Heres a great Chocolate Cake using Xylitol
2 cups flour
2 cups xylitol
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1.5 cups vegetable oil
Fold eggs/oil into dry mix, add in raspberries if desired. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees in a 9×13 pan
If desired, make a chocolate sauce.
3 oz. chocolate
2 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. heavy whipping cream
4 oz. butter
2 oz. cocoa powder
9 oz. xylitol
To make the sauce
Combine xylitol and cocoa to break up clumps, gently heat everything and break the chocolate into it.
Here are a couple of quick natural treats from netdoctor.co.uk to satisfy your sweet cravings whilst giving you a plethora of vitamins and minerals. You can use frozen fruit for ease although fresh fruit will contain more nutrients. Enjoy!
½ small melon, peeled, de-seeded and chopped.
1 large orange, peeled and chopped (pips removed).
1 lime, juice only.
Handful of fresh mint (optional).
2 tablespoons (tbsp) natural, sugar-free yoghurt.
Preparation: 5 minutes
Add all ingredients together.
Blend and serve.
4 peaches or nectarines, sliced and stoned.
50g / ½ cup blueberries.
50g / ½ cup strawberries.
1 large banana.
6 tbsp natural, sugar-free yoghurt.
6 brazil nuts.
Preparation: 5 minutes
Place the peaches or nectarines into a juicer and extract the juice. Pour the juice into a blender and mix with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately in tall glasses.