Coconut Sugar, Xylitol, Stevia… All natural powdered sweeteners


Coconut Flower

Coconut Flower

Fascinated by nutrition and its healing power, I’m always researching on the effects of specific foods on the body. Knowing that so many people, and many close to me, suffer from the negative effects of refined sugar and its consequences on our health, I’ve been trying different alternative sweeteners that are natural and healthier, and still taste yummy.

Some are old traditional ones that we’ve seen our grandmothers use for baking – maple syrup, honey – others are newly discovered in the healthy food industry. So after offering a few liquid sweeteners options in a previous post, let’s explore a few powdered options that are an easier fit to take with you anywhere, for your coffee or tea.

As some of these sweeteners might not be available at your supermarket, and hard to find in some places, I added a link to every item name to buy it online. Just click on theirs name below, and you too will have easy access to these valuable health enhancers!

Coconut Sugar

Pretty newly arrived to the consumer’s market in the US, this sweetener is made from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. One of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners on the market, it is also highly nutritious as it contains up to 16 amino acids. The other side of the story though, is that it’s not quite sustainable as in order to produce the sugar, the flower is being sacrificed and therefore no coconut can grow which means  no coconut oil, flour, or dry fruit will be produced. The flavor is unexpectedly pretty strong and caramel like. It ads an interesting and yummy flavor to the ‘cafe con leche’ (coffee with milk). Too strong to my taste though for delicate teas such as white or green varieties. It works though for spiced chai tea. I love it in plain greek yogurt too!

Ayurveda insight: No available data found on that one yet.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

how to grow stevia

Stevia rebaudiana

 

It is extracted from the naturally sweet stevia leaf. When chewed, the fresh leaf has a strong sweet flavor with a slight licorice aftertaste, and that remains too (even though it’s milder) in the processed powdery version. This may be the main concern of the consumer. But for people already used to the aftertaste of Splenda or NutraSweet, this shouldn’t be an issue. It melts well in hot and cold drinks, and is being conveniently sold in boxes of individual packets easy to keep and take places in your purse. It is also produced and sold in a liquid form, as drops, with the original flavor or with additional natural flavoring such as vanilla, orange, chocolate, which can add an interesting added flavor to your drink. It’s sweetening effect is higher than sugar, so less amount goes a long way. And with a very low glycemic index, it is safe for diabetics, and some studies even show that it might actually help lower the sugar level in the blood! So that’s definitely an interesting plant. Cautious though with the fact that in order to reduce its slight bitterness and aftertaste, it’s become quite a processed food and we’re getting away from the original healthy natural plant. Therefore to use in tea or herbal infusion, I recommend to use the pure unprocessed herb either in its dry version, or even better, plant a few organic seeds in your garden or in a pot and you’ll have your homemade produced stevia!

Ayurveda insight: As it has zero calories, it is a good option for Kapha.

Xylitol

Even though it’s been around for a bit in some chewing-gums, this is one of the newest additions to the sweetener aisle in the supermarket. Xylitol is naturally extracted from the birch tree, and is sold as a white powder that is the closest in aspect and texture to sugar. It melts faster than sugar, leaving no crunchy trace in the coffee cup (according to my coffee specialist Laura), but the really good thing is that it does not have an aftertaste! Or at least I haven’t been able to taste it. It is perfect to crush the saffron in the mortar for my chai in the morning, and it has the added health benefit of being good for my teeth as a decay cavity prevention (which is why it is a great ingredient in chewing gum and toothpaste). it is safe to be consumed by diabetics, and has 40% fewer calories than sugar.

Ayurveda insight: No available data found on that one yet.

When I initially thought about writing on this particular subject, I thought it would be a quick, short and easy posting, it ended up being a three episode novel! Well, I sure hope that so many words won’t be useless, and that they will help you make a better choice upon how you sweeten your life;)

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