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How Do I Choose the Best Alternative to Sugar?

Nectar from the agave plant is a possible alternative to sugar.
Honey is a popular natural alternative to sugar.
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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2014
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There are dozens of alternatives to sugar, but most fall under two categories: artificial and natural sweeteners. An artificial alternative to sugar has less calories and comes with a decreased risk of tooth decay, but some studies indicate that it could cause an increased risk of developing cancer, especially when consumed in large quantities. Natural sweeteners are a lot like sugar when they break down in the body, but they tend to have a different taste and texture. When in doubt or if you have a health problem that requires you to consume less sugar, ask a doctor what alternative is best for you.

Consider using an artificial sweetener as an alternative to sugar if the calories or cavity potential of consuming sugar is a concern. Artificial sweeteners are commonly found in beverages and ready-made food all around the world. They are often marketed as a healthier alternative to sugar because of their insignificant amount of calories and the fact that diabetics can use them to sweeten foods they normally must eat unsweetened. Some researchers question the safety of consuming artificial sweeteners, stating concerns about cancer. Modern studies show no sound evidence of most artificial sweeteners being hazardous to the health of humans, however.

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If you wish to choose an all-natural alternative to sugar, consider honey or agave nectar. These sugar alternatives are very similar to sugar when consumed, so there is not a significant health benefit to switching to these natural alternatives. Their texture and taste is different from sugar, however, and can add more flavor and body to teas, desserts, and coffee. Pick a natural sweetener based on how much you like its texture and taste rather than any supposed health benefits it has compared to sugar. Most natural sugar alternatives have insignificant amounts of vitamins and other nutrients that do not really affect how the human body functions.

Some people cannot consume as much sugar as others due to health concerns. If you are trying to avoid sugar due to similar concerns, ask your primary doctor what alternative to turn to. He or she might advise against natural sweeteners due to their similarity to sugar. In addition, the doctor might suggest using caution when consuming artificial sweeteners on a daily basis. Sugar alternatives are normally safe for people to consume, but certain groups of people, such as pregnant women, may need to practice extra caution because of how consumed foods can affect an unborn child.

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