Top 5 Natural Sweeteners

How sweet it is to have access to these natural sources of sugary flavor.  These time-tested sweeteners do the job of providing you with flavor and energy WITHOUT short-circuiting your pancreas, and causing your body to store fat like Jabba The Hut.

If you haven’t heard the news by now,  dietary fat doesn’t make you fat, excess sugars make you fat.  Excess sugar gets stored in your fat cells, and it’s the underlying cause of our society’s expanding waistline.

How to avoid this tricky situation is to avoid the chemical, super-sweet sweeteners, and go for the real stuff that gives you far more bang for the buck instead.  Here’s a list of the best natural sweeteners.

1.  Honey – Honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers during pollination.  This already sounds like magical stuff, but it only gets better from here.  Honey is actually THE HIGHEST source on enzymes of any known food.  Enzymes = Life-Force and the ability to have optimal biochemical functions in your body.

Honey is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids.  Honey also has excellent antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.

2.  Yacon Root Syrup – Yacon is the sweet secret of the Peruvian culture.  It’s commonly called “the apple of the Earth” because of it’s sweet and delicious flavor that can be eaten as is or turned into fantastic pour-over sweeteners and powders.

Yacon is a tuber (like a potato) that’s low glycemic and low in calories.  It’s rich in a type of polysaccharide called inulin, which helps to optimize healthy bacteria and is an excellent prebiotic.

Yacon root is considered the world’s richest source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which help the body to absorb critical alkaline minerals and better eliminate toxic compounds.  Here’s where you can find this sweet Peruvian treasure: Organic Yacon Powder

3.  Maple Syrup – The process of making maple syrup is an age-old tradition by our ancestors, who used it as both a food and a medicine.  Maple syrup is creating by tapping (piercing) the maple tree, allowing the clear sap to run out freely.  This clear sap is then boiled to remove excess water which takes the sugar density from a single digit to over 60%.

Maple syrup is such a valuable commodity because it’s one of the few WILD foods that are readily available to health-minded individuals.  Maple syrup is actually higher in minerals than honey, and provides a rich source of manganese and zinc which are critical for male reproductive health.  Always be sure to purchase 100% pure maple syrup.

4.  Dried Fruit – Using dried fruit to sweeten your food and beverages is a fantastic way to use whole foods for added benefits.  The star choice here is the longevity superstar, the dried goji berry.  By using this whole food for your sweetener you are also getting 19 amino acids, beta-carotene, zinc, iron, calcium, selenium, polysaccharides and much more.

You can add goji berries to your shakes, oatmeal, salads, baked goods, entrees, and teas.  Just soaking goji berries in water for several hours will create a delicious goji berry tea that you can use as is, or as a base for making some incredible elixirs.  Other dried fruit commonly used as sweeteners are: dates, raisins, mulberries, dried cranberries, and dried apricots.

5.  Stevia – Stevia originates from the rain forest of Paraguay in South America.   Stevia is a low glycemic, carbohydrate-free, calorie-free sweetener that’s been used for centuries to promote good health and energy.

What’s remarkable about stevia leaf is that it’s actually 100 times sweeter than sugar WITHOUT all of the known drawbacks of sugar (e.g. diabetes, obesity, and cancer).  It’s one of the few things in nature that seems too good to be true, but actually stack up scientifically.  Stevia has been shown to help stabilize blood pressure, normalize blood sugar levels in diabetics, and decrease the risk of osteoporosis by enhancing calcium absorption.

Here’s my favorite stevia product (English Toffee… Delicious!): Sweet Leaf Liquid Stevia

Please share below if you use any of these natural sweeteners, or comment on another natural sweetener that you use instead.

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  • Erich
    25 Jan 2011, 12:36 pm

    Maple Syrup goes great with steel cut oatmeal (porridge!). I sprinkle in some cinnamon and nutmeg along with fresh fruit on top. It’s great way to start the day, especially during the wintertime.

    Reply
  • Laurie
    22 Feb 2011, 7:31 pm

    Great post, Shawn! The natural sweetener, flavored liquid stevia, and a pinch of salt works perfectly!

    Our CEO is recovering from chemo, and she uses xylitol as her sweetener of choice. I know next to nothing about it, but the name alone sounds unnatural. What are the pro’s and con’s of its use?

    Reply
    • Shawn
      23 Feb 2011, 11:33 pm

      I felt the same way about xylitol when I first heard about it, to the point that I’ve never experimented with it even to this day. But the research on it is that it’s really an excellent product. Dr. Gabriel Cousens, whose work I respect immensely, use xylitol as his sweetener of choice at his facility and he has thousands upon thousands of cases of reversing diabetes at his clinic. I know that it’s produced from plant fibers, and that it has no known toxicity level (similar to water). I’ll more than likely get to it one day, but if you do before me let me know what you think.

      Reply
  • Pandora
    1 Apr 2011, 4:05 pm

    I use xylitol a lot and I love it. You can substitute it for granulated sugar 1:1 in a recipe and it tastes no different. I don’t like the taste of some natural sweeteners in some recipes (brown rice syrup, maple syrup, etc. can be a bit overpowering). Xylitol doesn’t thicken up like syrup when you boil it (sugar does), but in baked goods it tastes just like sugar.

    My grocery store’s website says, “Xylitol occurs naturally in straw, corncobs, fruit, vegetables, cereals, mushrooms, and some seaweeds. For use in food manufacturing, xylitol is extracted from birch wood chips.”

    It’s also good for your teeth. It’s used in toothpaste a lot. 😀

    Reply
    • Shawn
      13 Apr 2011, 3:18 pm

      Thank you SO MUCH for adding this insightful info of Xylitol for people to choose from. It almost made the list, but I have far more experience with the Top 5 mentioned here that it wouldn’t have received such rave reviews as you have provided. Thanks again!

      Reply