Artificial, natural, and low glycemic sweeteners may be beneficial for those attempting to cut back on sugar and caloric intake while managing healthy blood sugar levels. But what are artificial and natural sweeteners? For the sake of supporting optimal wellness, we must understand the distinctions between these sweeteners – including how they are metabolized and stored in the body.
Artificial sweeteners are chemically synthesized products that resemble sugar. They include well-known sugar alternatives like aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and sucralose (Splenda), which are calorie free and generally taste sweeter than conventional sugar. Artificial sweeteners are known to trigger blood glucose (and insulin) spikes after consuming.
Natural sweeteners are considered healthier alternatives are they are synthesized from plants and are either low-calorie or calorie-free. They also generate a different response in the body because they do not cause blood glucose, and resulting insulin, levels to rise. This is due to the fact that they either travel through the digestive tract without being broken down, contain non-sugar compounds, or function as prebiotics that suppress the body’s glycemic response. It’s interesting to note that some may even lower insulin and glucose levels in the body.
If you’re looking for low glycemic sweeteners that do not result in blood sugar spikes, check out the best low glycemic sweeteners below.
5 Low Glycemic Sweeteners that Won’t Cause a Blood Sugar Spike
Stevia is a plant extract that’s been used for generations as a bio-sweetener and for additional medicinal purposes, such as lowering blood sugar levels. It’s calorie free and claimed to taste up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Research has shown that stevia is regarded as generally safe to consume by healthy individuals. Studies have demonstrated daily consumption of stevia by individuals of a healthy weight has an easier time managing weight compared to those who do not. This may be due to stevia’s positive effect on appetite regulation with minimal impact on glucose and insulin levels.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol produced by fermenting grains like maize and wheat, which contain naturally occurring sugars. Contrary to other sweeteners, erythritol isn’t as sweet as table sugar. The majority of estimators rank its level of sweetness at about 70% that of sugar. Erythritol is calorie free, ranks at a zero on the glycemic index, and is gentle on blood sugar levels. According to research, erythritol is not only a sugar (glucose) alternative but may also be effective in treating diabetes mellitus (DM) by managing postprandial blood glucose levels.
Monk fruit is an extract derived from a melon naturally grown in Asia. Its extract contains beneficial phytonutrient compounds called mogrosides, which are antioxidants shown to taste up to 250 times sweeter than sucrose. Monk fruit extract is also calorie free with half a gram of carbohydrates. Studies have shown that switching from sugar-sweetened beverages to those sweetened with monk fruit, a natural zero-calorie sweetener, offers health benefits and has a minimal effect on 24-hour glucose measurements. Additionally, research showed that type 2 diabetic rat’s blood cholesterol levels, respiratory exchange rate, and body temperature all improved following consumption of symbiotic yogurt fortified with monk fruit extract.
Monk fruit is an excellent sweetener, which is why it’s one of 10 ingredients used to formulate Lowsitol, a supplement that supports healthy blood sugar levels. Not only does Lowsitol support healthy blood sugar levels, but it also promotes efficient carbohydrate metabolism and dampens cravings for carbohydrate-containing foods. Altogether, Lowsitol is a great tasting, naturally sweetened supplement that helps to support a healthy weight.
Similar to erythritol, xylitol is a sugar alcohol made from fermented maize or, in some cases, birch bark. In fact, “xylose” translates to “wood sugar,” which is how this sweetener got its name. Xylitol’s sweetness is comparable to that of white sugar. Unlike erythritol, however, one teaspoon on xylitol contains 10 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. It also ranks low on the glycemic index at 13. Xylitol is multifunctional; it can be used as a sugar alternative or added to diabetic-friendly foods.
Yacón syrup is an extract from a South American plant that’s well-known for its fructooligosaccharide (FOS) content. FOS are prebiotic carbohydrates that support the healthy growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which supports a healthy immune system, healthy blood sugar levels, and efficient fat metabolism. One tablespoon of yacón syrup contains 20 calories. According to research, yacón syrup lowered blood sugar and insulin levels in obese and normal weight women. Additionally, daily yacón syrup consumption decreased body weight, waist circumference, body mass index, and lowered fasting serum insulin.
So, should we choose natural sugar, artificial sweeteners, or natural sweeteners? Many people focus on this issue to the extent where they overlook the main concept. In an ideal world, we should be eating and drinking items that are free of added sweeteners. However, we don’t live in an ideal world. This is why there are “healthier” sugar alternatives and sweeteners, like the ones listed above, that do not result in a blood sugar spike and can help support the body in managing healthy glucose and insulin levels.
According to research, artificial sweeteners are not the healthier option as a sugar alternative. They actually may increase the risk of gaining weight, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Natural sweeteners, on the other hand, are an excellent substitute for conventional sugar and artificial sweeteners. This is especially true for those with dietary limitations. Natural sweeteners like monk fruit, which can be found in supplements like Lowsitol, mimics the sweetness of sugar without having as many calories or carbohydrates. As a result, you may find it easier to manage sugar cravings and healthy blood sugar levels.