A Guide To Natural Sugar Substitutes

This is an exciting time to be involved in the world of natural sweeteners. The list of healthier alternatives to sugar gets ever longer, so I thought it was high time I listed my top favourites here and explained what’s so good about them. So here goes…

Xylitol

There’s a separate article about xylitol on the site so I won’t repeat myself too much here – suffice it to say that xylitol looks and tastes like sugar but has a glycemic index* of just 7 (whereas that of sugar is 68). It also has only 60% of the calories of sugar and bacteria can’t grow in it, so it won’t rot your teeth. You can use it just as you would sugar, the only things it won’t do is caramelize or make yeast rise. Xylitol is recommended by many leading alternative nutritionists as a good alternative sugar.

In the UK, xylitol is relatively freely available from many supermarkets and health food shops. Xylitol should be suitable for most diabetics (but of course consult your doctor first).

Disadvantages: it can have a slight laxative effect until your body gets used to it. It is therefore recommended that you don’t eat more than 50g a day at first. 50g of xylitol is however quite a large amount so you would be unlikely to exceed this anyway. Like chocolate, xylitol should not be fed to dogs as it can be poisonous for them.

Like chocolate, xylitol is not safe for dogs – so don’t feed it to them!

It is difficult to find out how processed xylitol is – some say it is quite heavily processed, others that the only catalyst used is water. It is also not possible to get organic xylitol at this moment in time, although the make I use, Perfect Sweet, is definitely non-GM.

Raw food eaters – please note that xylitol is not a raw product.

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Is ‘Raw Chocolate’ Truly Raw?

There is no doubt that raw chocolate is a very different entity to ‘normal’ chocolate,which is roasted at high temperatures. It is possible to tell this both from the taste, and from it’s effects on the body (most people for instance find cacao more stimulating than roasted cocoa, and I find that my skin reacts more favourably to cacao than to cocoa).

However, it is apparently very difficult for the producers to control the fermentation process an entirely natural process, and very necessary to make the beans edible, but one which can reach into the 50 degrees range.

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