November 28, 2016

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Switching to Natural Sweeteners

Switching to Natural Sweeteners
By Maria England, NDTR, ABS Team Member

Recently we have started to recognize the importance of cutting back on sugars, especially refined sugars. Often times in baking and cooking this means replacing sugar with natural sugars, which are in the form of fruits like dates or sweeteners, like stevia. So what are the differences?

The best part about the awareness of decreasing our sugar intake is the amazing recipes that are being made. We are focusing on reducing how much refined sugar is being added to our food. Refined sugar is actually considered added sugar, because it isn’t naturally found in the food. Where as natural sugars are naturally found in foods.

For naturally sweetened recipes they often use dates to help replace refined granulated sugar with natural sugars. This does create a more natural product that has natural sugars in it instead of added sugars, but it is still packed full of calories. For a ¼ of a cup of dates there are 125 calories, where as ¼ of a cup of granulated sugar has 190 calories. It is a little bit more nutritional dense though because dates have 1.1g of protein and 3.6g of fiber in that ¼ of a cup, but if you are trying to cut back on your calories and sugar, it isn’t always the best choice.

If you are looking to reduce calories and remove sugar from your diet, then a great substitute is natural sweeteners, which are extracted from plants. One of the most common sweeteners now is Stevia. Stevia is made from a plant, by extracting the liquid from a stevia leaf. You can buy stevia as a liquid, which can be added to baked goods or drinks as a sweetener. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar so a lot goes a long way. Another way of using stevia is in a granulate form. To create a granulated stevia they mix the stevia extract with a sugar alcohol, such as erythritol, which is used as a bulking agent. These bulking agents usually do have some calories, so you need to make sure to read the label and see how many calories the sugar alcohols add.

ABS Pancakes uses stevia extract, which means it does not have any added sugars. The low amount of sugar that is in the products comes from the protein powders, which are made from milk products. Milk naturally has sugar in it, but since it isn’t a refined sugar it isn’t considered an added sugar. A serving of ABS Pancakes only has 3g of sugar, which is from a natural sugar.

One of the best tips when trying to reduce your sugar intake is reading labels and finding recipes that already have the nutritional value figured out for you. This can help you find out how much sugar is in the recipe and also how many calories of sugar there are. For every 1g of sugar there are 4 calories, so it is easy to figure out how many calories there are in sugar!


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