If you're looking for a way to sweeten your food and beverages without using sugar, you may be wondering if natural sweeteners are the best option. There are many different types of natural sweeteners available, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. In this post, we will share some of the benefits and drawbacks of the most popular low calorie natural sweeteners so you can make the choice about which is best for you.
Monk fruit concentrate
Monk fruit concentrate is made from the extract of monk fruit, which is a small, round fruit native to Southeast Asia. Monk fruit sweeteners are created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice. The fruit extract, or juice, contains zero calories per serving.
Monk fruit concentrate is about 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, making it a very concentrated source of sweetness. Because of its intense sweetness, monk fruit concentrate is often used in small amounts to add sweetness to food and beverages.
Monk fruit concentrate does not contain fructose or glucose, and is considered a low-glycemic sweetener. This means that it does not cause spikes in blood sugar levels, making it a good option for people with diabetes or other blood sugar disorders. Monk fruit has been used as a food for hundreds of years, and there have been no reported side effects from eating the sweetener.
There’s a risk of allergic reaction with anything you consume and there is a very rare chance you could be allergic to monk fruit. Monk fruit is a fruit that is related to pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and melons. If you are allergic to any of those things, there is a higher chance that you will be allergic to monk fruit as well.
There is also a small percentage of people who find the taste of monk fruit unusual or unpleasant and it leaves an aftertaste for them.
At Adapt Drinks we chose to use monk fruit concentrate as it has no known side effects and fewer people had issues with the taste.
Stevia is a plant that is native to South America. The leaves of the stevia plant are dried and then ground into a powder, which can be used as a sweetener. Stevia is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, making it one of the most concentrated sources of sweetness. Because stevia does not affect blood sugar levels, it is a good sweetener for people with diabetes or other blood sugar disorders.
Stevia has a mild, licorice-like taste that is somewhat tart. Some people like it, but many don't and find the aftertaste unappealing. Stevia products made with sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues in some consumers, such as bloating and diarrhoea.
If you would like to see a full list of pros and cons for monkfruit and stevia you can find one here.
Agave nectar is a type of syrup that is made from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high. Agave nectar is about 30% sweeter than sugar and but for comparable tablespoons agave has about 60 calories per tbsp, as opposed to 40 calories for the same quantity of table sugar. But as agave is sweeter you can use less of it and therefore total calories would likely be less.
Some people believe that agave nectar is a healthier sweetener because it has a low glycemic index. However, agave nectar is highly processed and high in fructose, which can cause health problems if consumed in large amounts. Possible side effects of agave nectar include bloating and abdominal pain.
Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that is found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Sugar alcohols are not as sweet as sugar, but they do have a similar texture. Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar. People generally handle erythritol better than other sugar alcohols but some people do experience side effects such as bloating and diarrhoea.
Xylitol is another type of sugar alcohol. Xylitol is as sweet as sugar, but it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike. Xylitol is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, but it can also be made in a lab. Potential side effects that some people might experience are bloating, diarrhoea, and gas.
Preference for natural sweeteners can be very individual and it is always important to read the label to see if there is restrictions on the amount of the product you should consume.