There can be a lot of confusion about the various sweeteners on the market today. Every coffee shop you go to has multiple packets to choose from and your pantry may contain even more options. My pantry has pure maple syrup, agave, honey and stevia. Plus I have some whipped honey from Texas that I can’t get enough of!
What’s up with sweeteners?
- Agave nectar – Agave nectar comes from the same agave plant that tequila comes from (!!). It doesn’t create a night like tequila does, but it is a nice alternative to honey. Agave is not a zero calorie sweetener and it should be treated as a high sugar product. It does have a nice mild flavor that works well with certain recipes.
- Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, Sweetnlow) – Artificial sweeteners may be safe in small quantities. Many people however use multiple packets every day in their coffee and they can be found in many diet products. While they are zero calorie options there have been many controversial reports about artificial sweeteners since they were first created. Using too many artificial sweeteners can retrain your taste buds to crave sweeter foods – this could hinder your progress towards a healthier diet. My advice: stay away from these options.
- Honey – Honey comes from those busy honey bees. It is not a zero calorie sweetener and I think you know how to use it! Local honey can actually provide relief from allergies because pollen picked up from local plants is present in the honey. Honey in general can help treat coughs, boost energy and boost your immune system.
- Maple syrup – Pure maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees. If you’re going to eat maple syrup make sure it’s 100% pure maple syrup! None of that fake stuff that’s packed with even more sugar and artificial ingredients. Pure maple syrup contains zinc, manganese and a few other nutrients. It is not a zero calorie sweetener.
- Monk fruit – Monk fruit extract is a low calorie sweetener that comes from real fruit. Monk fruit is a small melon that has fruit juice twenty times sweeter than other fruit juice. This sweetener is available in granulated form and is a good alternative to artificial sweeteners. I recently noticed monk fruit extract mixed with stevia at Starbucks!
- Stevia – Stevia leaf extract comes from the stevia plant. Liquid stevia is your best bet to get the pure stevia leaf extract. Most packaged products are mixed with erythritol, a sugar alcohol. This is a zero calorie sweetener and it is what I prefer to use in my coffee.
- Turbinado sugar – Turbinado sugar, otherwise known as sugar in the raw, comes from pure cane sugar. It looks like brown sugar and don’t be fooled by the fancy name – it is regular sugar! Use it if you’re looking for the real thing.