You know curbing your sugar intake is smart. Now Yale scientists say since sucralose raises the risk of diabetes, keeping an eye on artificial sweeteners is important too. To the rescue: health-boosting all-natural sweeteners!
Steadies Blood Sugar: Stevia
“Stevia is the healthiest choice for folks concerned about blood sugar,” says Fred Pescatore, MD. “It has zero calories and doesn’t cause blood-sugar disturbances.” Indeed, one study found that diabetics who used stevia noticeably lowered their blood-sugar levels. Dr. Pescatore, who likes SweetLeaf Sweet Drops (Buy on Amazon, $5.19), says stevia is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Just a bit delivers the flavor you crave.
Boosts Immunity: Manuka Honey
What’s better than honey? A variety that fortifies immunity! Savoring 1 tsp. of manuka honey can neutralize 85 percent of pneumonia-causing bacteria and halt their spread entirely, a study in Microbiology found. A compound in manuka honey (methylglyoxal) stops bacteria from anchoring onto cells, warding off infections. Julia Zumpano, RD, recommends honey with a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) of at least 10; the higher the UMF, the more methylglyoxal it contains.
Lowers Cholesterol: Monk Fruit
A monk fruit compound called mogroside keeps cholesterol in check by easing inflammation. “The body sends cholesterol to areas with the most inflammation to clean up the mess,” says Dr. Pescatore. “When you lower inflammation, you lower cholesterol.” Even better, scientists at Vanderbilt University say monk fruit’s antioxidants raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Dr. Pescatore likes Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (Buy at Walmart, $5.97), which he says, “is an easy swap for white sugar.”
Protects Gums: Erythritol
Shield gums with a sweetener? A study in the International Journal of Dentistry reveals that erythritol, a sugar alcohol made from corn, curbs the growth of plaque-causing bacteria by 60 percent and decreases tooth decay by 11%. It coats teeth to stop bacteria from growing, says Zumpano, who likes Truvia (Buy on Amazon, $5).
One caveat: Research published in the journal Nature Medicine in February 2023 found that people who had suffered a stroke or heart attack had higher levels of erythritol in their bodies than those who had not suffered a cardiac event. Subsequent studies in both humans and mice suggested that consuming erythritol can increase blood clot formation. “This, in turn, could increase the chance of heart attack or stroke,” according to a statement from the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research. So while erythritol is great to use in tooth products, you don’t want to ingest too much of it.
Boost Fat Burn: Yacon Syrup
Made from the root of a South American plant, yacon syrup has sugars that aid digestion and speed fat burn. Research in Clinical Nutrition found women who consumed 3 to 4 tsp. of this natural sweetener daily lost 33 pounds and 4″ off their waists in three months! Try drizzling it over oatmeal or stirring it into tea.
Another great tip: Enhance sweetness with a dash of cinnamon! The delicious spice has been proven to lower blood sugar by 29 percent! Sprinkle it on oatmeal and coffee drinks.