Here’s the best alternative to your daily spoonful of sugar.

By Lauren Delaney and April Cumming

Eat this: stevia sweetener
Not that: sucralose, aspartame and saccharin
Says who: Lauren Delaney, Precision Nutrition, Level 1 coach and NSCA-certified personal trainer
Why: “It has zero calories, zero carbohydrates and none of the nasty side effects of artificial sweeteners, such as headaches, migraines, liver and kidney impairment and mood disorders, making it an ideal natural sweetener.”

Benefits of this:
1. “Stevia is extracted from a plant, one related to the sunflower and native to South America, and is minimally processed. The plant’s sweet leaf has been used as a sweetener and sugar substitute for hundreds of years.”
2. “Stevia is 200 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way.”
3. “Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose. It may even enhance glucose tolerance. So, unlike sugar, it is not going to spike your insulin.”

Drawbacks of that:
1. “Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame and saccharin are created through chemical processing, so when these products are consumed, you are potentially putting yourself in danger of ingesting toxic ingredients.”
2. “The chemicals present in these artificial sweeteners can lead to future health concerns and affect the absorption of medications in the body’s system.”

Make the Swap: “Many companies have caught on to the fact that stevia is a more natural sweetener. My stevia brand of choice is SweetLeaf. It’s a more expensive product than other commercial sweeteners, but a little goes a long way.”
• “Some people feel that stevia has a more bitter aftertaste, so that may take some adjustment as well.”
• “Because stevia is so much sweeter than sugar, a direct substitution is not possible when baking. For every cup of sugar your recipe calls for, replace with either 1 teaspoon liquid stevia, 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon stevia extract powder, 1 tablespoon concentrated stevia liquid or 18 to 24 individual serving packets.” 
• “You can add stevia to your daily diet in food staples such as coffee, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. They also sell stevia in packets for keeping in your bag or purse since this sweetener is not typically available in restaurants or coffee shops.”


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