Sugar is something that we take for granted in most of our diets. Sucrose, as sugar is often referred to, is “table sugar” or sugar that occurs naturally in nature. You will find sucrose naturally in fruits and it is often used as an additive to food and drinks to make them sweeter. The downside to consuming sucrose on a daily basis is both tooth decay and weight gain. When an individual is health-conscious, they tend to turn to healthier options for their sugar intake. For example, they start making healthy soda without sweeteners at home using soda makers instead of buying canned soda. Each of the alternatives to natural sugar have their pros and cons, just as sugar does. It’s all about being able to pick and choose which option has the better benefits for an individual’s health goals.
Aspartame goes by many names, depending on the brand. You will commonly find aspartame in store bought yogurts, drinks, cough drops, and gum in stores. It is often used in replacement of sugar for those products which state that they are sugar free. Aspartame is likely one of the most studied artificial sweeteners on the market today. This is due to the many myths that surround the ingredient, such as fear that the ingredient potentially causes many different conditions, such as obesity or cancer. Due to these concerns, scientists have conducted intensive studies to figure out if there was any weight to these claims. As far as what these studies have been able to conclude, there does not appear to be any hard evidence to support these fearful claims.
Honey is a natural and healthy ingredient that can be used in replacement of sugar in most anything someone would ordinarily add sugar to. This delicious sugar substitute is not too strong for most of those who consume it and it can easily be adjusted to a person’s preference of taste. There are trace amounts of needed vitamins and minerals in honey, which may improve a person’s health in some ways. Honey has been linked to improvements in everything from healthier hair and skin to improved cholesterol levels. It is believed to be much healthier for those who have diabetes than consuming sugar. Speculation surrounding honey and the antioxidants that it naturally holds has linked it to even lowering blood pressure levels. It is a full-calorie sweetener, so it is quite rich in calorie amount per ounce.
Agave Nectar is similar to using honey as a substitute for sugar. The consistency and even the taste of agave nectar is similar to the taste and texture of honey. Agave nectar is commonly used in cereals, teas, and yogurts as a substitute for sugar. That being said, it is also often used on breakfast based foods like oatmeal and even pancakes, scones, and waffles. The only downside to agave nectar, versus using real honey as a sugar substitute, is the fact that agave nectar does not have as many antioxidants as honey tends to possess. Despite this, they both have roughly the same amount of calories per ounce. Agave nectar is very sweet. Those who use it state that it is actually sweeter than sugar, so you don’t have to use very much of it to get to a desirable level of sweetness.
High-fructose corn syrup is used as a sugar substitute in many processed and packaged foods that would ordinarily contain sugar in the United States. Due to the naturally self preserving quality of high-fructose corn syrup, it makes this sugar substitute valuable in terms of prolonging the shelf life of products sold in stores. It is cheaper than the aforementioned sucrose. Instead of including real sugar, most sodas, cereals, and yogurts produced in the US contain high-fructose corn syrup. The pros may be obvious for marketers and mass distributing companies for foods that can stay alive longer on the shelves, but what about the home cook who might be interested in it as a sugar substitute? There does not seem to be many health benefits in consuming high-fructose corn syrup, compared to the health benefits of agave nectar or honey when they are used as a sugar substitute. For this reason, most home cooks do not choose to use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, since there are healthier alternatives on the market.