Americans ingest almost 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. This amounts to 66 pounds each year. Whether by consuming convenience foods and prepared beverages or sprinkling cereal or coffee with table sugar, we are constantly feeding our sweet tooth and bearing the bitter health consequences: tooth decay, metabolic disorders, obesity, and cancers. Artificial sweeteners have risen to the rescue, but they often carry troubling side effects as well. Nature provides a bounty of treasures that, in moderation, can satisfy our sweet tooths and enhance our health. Try these exotic and tried-and-true sugar alternatives for a tasty solution to sweet cravings.
Luo han kuo or monk fruit is a small melon native to China. Buddhist monks have been cultivating this plant for its sweetness and curative properties for centuries. In several studies, monk fruit exhibits remarkable antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer potential. Unique sweetening substances called mogrosides impart these health benefits. Monk fruit extract is 300 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar, yet it has no calories or carbohydrates. It does not trigger spikes in blood glucose levels, so it is popular with people who follow low-carb and diabetic-friendly diets. However, it’s important to check labels as some monk fruit products contain added sugars or other fillers.
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