Having a sweet tooth may sound benign, but loving sugar can have serious health consequences. Even though Americans are more aware of just how much sugar is contained in a can of soda, a candy bar or cookie, there is no denying that we are addicted to sugar. Consider these statistics:
On average, Americans consume
- 3 pounds of sugar every week.
- 130 pounds of sugar every year
- 3,500 pounds of sugar in a lifetime. That’s enough to fill an entire dumpster.
- 53 gallons of soft drinks per year (Source: Forbes).
Excess sugar consumption is not only linked to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cancer, but also eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy, an eye condition that many diabetics develop, is the leading cause of new cases of legal blindness among adults aged 20 to 74 years in the United States (Source: JAMA). The only solution to the growing rate of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy is to lower our sugar consumption or find healthy alternatives.
If you have a self-prescribed sweet tooth, here are a few other sugar substitutes to satisfy your cravings:
Sweetleaf and Truvia
Both of these substitutes are made from stevia, an herb that is 40 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories. Stevia will not cause a spike in blood sugar, but consumers did not like its bitter aftertaste. The makers of Sweetleaf and Truvia solved this dilemma by only using the sweetest part of the plant. Both products work well for sweetening beverages or fruit, but they are not suitable for baking.
This sweetener is a blend of three natural sugars: fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk sugar). Individually, each sugar contains the full caloric amount, but when blended together the triad interacts in a unique manner and only equal four calories per teaspoon. Whey Low comes in several varieties like granulated sugar, brown sugar, maple sugar, and confectioners’ sugar and is surprisingly adaptive to baking recipes.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can be found in berries, beets and corn. Tasting almost as sweet as sugar, it only contains nine calories per teaspoon (compared to 15 calories per teaspoon in table sugar). One of its best features is that it prevents bacteria from adhering to teeth, making it a popular sweetener for chewing gum. Xylitol is well-suited for sweetening coffee, and you can use it for baking if you cut the amount in half (Source: Web MD).
If you have never tried a sugar substitute, look for Sweetleaf, Truvia, Whey Low or Xylitol at your local grocery store or health food store. Your eyesight is essential and irreplaceable. Sugar is replaceable, so protect your eyes from disease like diabetic retinopathy by using a more eye-healthy substitute to satisfy your sweet tooth!