What Are the 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners and Which Ones to Avoid [Episode #784]
This week’s topic is: What Are the 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners and Which Ones to Avoid
In Sanskrit, madora is the word for sweet, one of the six primary tastes. And as humans, we are wired to crave sweets, to get sweets in our life, the sweet taste in our life in some way. Now, this could also be in the form of whole fruit. It could be in the form of actually what Ayurveda considers certain whole grains, the way it digests in the body. However, the practicality is that sometimes we want to add sweeteners into things, whether we are baking a birthday cake as I recently did for one of my children, or we like to have sweetness in our elixirs, particularly if they have more earthy ingredients like cumin in them.
We’re not going to be perfect and never have any added sweets. So it’s important to know when we do make the choices of what sweeteners to choose, we are making the best choices for our wellness, our bodies, and our precious energy. Today we’re going to get into the best choices and the ones that we definitely want to avoid and research that supports all of this.
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Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Namaste loves and welcome back to our Thursday q and a show. Today we have a very practical and important topic. What Are the 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners and Which Ones to Avoid. So in Sanskrit, madora is the word for sweet, one of the six primary tastes. So as humans, we are wired to crave sweets, to get sweets in our life, the sweet taste in our life in some way. Now, this could also be in the form of whole fruit. It could be in the form of actually what Ayurveda considers certain whole grains, the way it digests in the body. But the practicality is that sometimes we want to add sweeteners into things, whether we are baking a birthday cake as I recently did for one of my children, or we like to have sweetness in our elixirs, particularly if they have more earthy ingredients like cumin in them, and just, you know, just the practicality of life.
You know, we’re not going to be perfect and never have any added sweets. So it’s important to know when we do make the choices of what sweeteners to choose, we are making the best choices for our wellness, for our bodies, for our precious energy. So today we’re going to get into the best choices and the ones that we definitely want to avoid and research that supports all of this.
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Question around the topic of: What Are the 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners and Which Ones to Avoid: Kimberly, I love the show and information you provide. I have heard a lot of different info on sweeteners. Which ones are the best to use? Thank you!
Okay, all of that being said, let’s get right into our show today. Our question comes from Joy w who lives in Arkansas. Hi, joy, sending you much love out there to the Midwest. I love that your name is Joy, and I send you a big virtual hug. Thank you so much for being part of our community. I’ve got my hands on my heart right now, and I know that your question is one that will resonate with many you, right? Kimberly, I love the show and information you provide.
I have heard a lot of different info on sweeteners, which ones are the best to use? Thank you. So again, thank you Joy for your question because there is a lot of information out there today, and it seems that things are constantly changing and there’s, you know, studies that crop up and we think to ourselves, how are we supposed to keep up with all this stuff? So <laugh>, let’s actually, I’d love to start with the ones to avoid, and that way we can get that out of the way, and then we can focus on the ones that are the best ones to use, and also in which circumstances that we wanna use each one, because some are better for baking and for heating, some are better when used in, you know, a raw form and so on and so forth.
#1. Sweeteners to Avoid: Artificial sweeteners
So across the board, the first one that we wanna talk about avoiding is all artificial sweeteners. And this includes saccharin, aka sweet and low aspartame, aka equal SLOs, which got popular, you know, a couple, a decade or two ago called S Splenda. These are, as the name suggests, artificial, they are not part of nature. They are not going to support our natural wellbeing. There is so much research about this now, but I wanna point out a study which we will link to in our show notes over at mysolluna.com from 2019, published in the National Library of Medicine, which showed that long-term saccharin consumption increased the risk of obesity, diabetes, um, dysfunction, renal impairment in rats. So when something is really unnatural, it’s based in chemicals, it’s contrived, it’s meant to taste sweet, but still creating disruption in the body. The fact that it increases our risk of diabetes means that it’s still having, even though it’s not actual sugar, it’s still having a detrimental impact on our bodies, on our hormones, you know, such as ghrelin, leptin, our abilities to tell naturally when we’re full naturally, how much we are meant to be consuming.
#2. Sweeteners to Avoid: Sucrose and high fructose corn syrup
And so products that contain these sweeteners should also very much be avoided. And there are certain energy drinks and sodas and certain things, diet sodas and things that you just wanna check the label and just make sure that you’re not consuming this in any form. It may seem like a good hack, a good trick, but I assure you it is not, it is not something you wanna be putting in your precious body. So just go through your cabinets, go through your kitchen, go through your products, and just make sure that artificial sweeteners are not around anymore. But don’t worry, there’ll be some great options, which I will get to in a moment. Secondly, we wanna avoid sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. So this is something that is unfortunately also quite prevalent in products, in sodas, in even, you know, what you might not consider, um, such as certain packaged foods, some of them under the guise of being health foods.
It’s even in certain baby formulas. And these are, um, as the name suggests, concentrated corn sweetened, um, a syrup that increases, it changes your liver, changes levels of, um, liver fat, it increases insulin sensitivity. So, um, there’s so much research about this as well. There’s one study here I’ll point out from the University of California Davis, which showed, um, and this was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, just showing how detrimental consuming high fructose corn syrup was even for two weeks, the impact it had on insulin and the liver. So you can imagine when people are consuming these products day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, the detrimental impact it would have on the body. Again, these are contrived, manmade formulas of sweeteners. So when Ayurveda was, you know, written in these sacred texts like the JE samhita thousands of years ago, and they were talking about sweet madura as a taste, they certainly were not talking about these highly concentrated manmade products. They were really talking about natural forms, which I’ll get into in a moment to get
#3. Sweeteners to Avoid:Agave
This taste in. So we feel naturally balanced and naturally satisfied, but we don’t feel, um, or our bodies aren’t going through this incredible up and down spikes and just feeling completely thrown off and throwing off our organ functionality and our metabolic health. So the third sweetener to avoid is agave. And I personally have been talking about this for many years. When I was a raw foodist back in the day in New York, I started to get suspicious about this agave that was in all these raw desserts and people were using it, it was like they were pouring it in, you know, like it was water. And lo and behold, there is much research, including a 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrients that found that agave nectar is high in fructose and can contribute to metabolic disorders like obesity and type two diabetes. So originally it is derived from a plant, just like high fructose corn syrup is derived from a plant, it’s derived from corn and agave nectar is avo is derived from agave, you know, this sort of cactus family, but it’s concentrated, it’s manipulated, it’s tampered with. So please avoid agave nectar and products that contain agave.
Now, the next sweetener to avoid potentially is the one that’s been focused on a lot in the news and in the media over the past few months. And that is the sugar a alcohols including sorbitol, xylitol and erythritol. There was a groundbreaking study, a very popular study that just got sent out over the airwaves from the Cleveland Clinic this year in 2023, which found that erythritol was associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. And you can look at the study will link to it in the show notes in nature medicine. So these sweeteners are in different products and it’s about also the excess, I think it’s also about how much you’re putting in what the rest of your diet looks like. But if you can avoid these sugar alcohols, which are also, you know, highly manipulated and manmade and you know, just a lot of processing goes into making them, it’s definitely worth avoiding them as well, especially when you have great other alternatives, which will get to the great news in a moment. So to run through again, the sweeteners that I definitely recommend that you avoid artificial sweeteners of all kinds, saccharin as peram slo, sucrose in general, and high Fructose corn syrup, which has added in a lot of processed foods and sodas, agave nectar, which can even be added into so-called health foods. So be on the lookout. And then the sugar alcohols like the erythritol, the xylitol, sorbitol malitol. So, um, and of course if you can avoid, there’s just the straight up can sugar, inorganic cane sugar as well, which is the obvious one, um, that again, there’s some better options. And if you were to use straight cream sugar, it would certainly be better, in my opinion, a small amount of that than artificial sweeteners.
#1. 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners: Raw honey
But now we’ll get into the good stuff. There are good options. And the first one that I wanna talk about is raw honey. And I am very fascinated with honey. I’m fascinated with bees and the whole universe with bees. I seem to have a very special relationship with bees.
They have a very special relationship with the environment. A huge amount of our food supply is dependent on pollinators like bees to keep things going. So in Hawaii on our farm, we have 11 hives and we have over a million bees. So we are actively, um, just creating this beautiful home for them on our land. And, um, just they, they flourish, they love it there. We also have a guest house, and as we tapped into the walls, it turned out that the whole cast house was essentially a wild beehive and the walls were all honeycomb. And then we tried to, you know, replace the walls and, and board it up. And then two more wild hives have come in. And so we’ve just sort of let them live there at the moment. Eventually we’ll try to integrate them into the other hives so they have a home as well.
We’re not going to, you know, you know, stamp them out or, or we’re trying to transplant them, you know, ethically. And so they have a really safe, wonderful home. But anyways, the point is I have a lot of bees around me and I’ve grown, um, so deeply in my respect and my reference for bees. So honey, some people will say, oh, you know, maybe it’s not technically vegan. So I’ll say, I’m a vegan, if you’ve heard this term where I am okay, using ethically sourced particularly, um, you know, just when you can know the beekeeper and know how the, where the honey or the, um, bee pollen, whatever bee products you’re using is coming from, it’s a very powerful food to put into your body. It’s been used in Ayurveda, it’s been called the amrita, the, the nectar, the, the absolute pinnacle of nature. When you think about it energetically, the bees are gathering the essence of all the flowers and the, and the beautiful plants and the trees, and they’re bringing it
Together in this incredible concentrated liquid form. And a little bit does go a long way. And so I’m okay with it. It’s a personal choice. If you want to avoid honey, um, and you wanna stay, you know, very strictly no animal products at all, then, then we have other options here for you. But then I will say that the bees are, you know, by nature workers and some people don’t treat the bees ethically. They overwork them, they move the bee boxes around constantly around the country and to pollinate certain land for us, the bees have their permanent home. They’re not overworked, they’re treated with great love. We, um, you know, don’t use any sort of sprays or anything with them. We have the little beetle trap. We keep their homes safe from mites and beetles. And so, um, they’re not harmed in creating honey. So for me, I definitely love raw honey and I use it quite often.
A little bit does go a long way. Everybody’s body’s different as well. I wanna mention that everybody’s metabolism and genetic constitution and their way that they handle sugar is different. So, you know, um, in terms of, um, how often and how much you’re using there can be a great difference. And also when it comes to madura, before we go further, the sweet taste, the primary way that we should be getting the sweet taste into our bodies is through ripe fruit, whole fruit, not fruit juice, which is in our glowing green smoothie. And if you have candida or yeast or some sort of, you know, sugar metabolism condition, then you may need to avoid all sugar and all fruit for a time as I did. But then as the body and the gut comes back in health and vitality and strength, our bodies should be able to handle natural foods, which includes whole fruit.
So with the honey, uh, a study that I’ll link to in the show notes, which comes from the clinic, clinical research in the National Library of medicine shows that honey, raw honey has antioxidants and anti, um, bacterial properties. It’s great for inflammation, it’s great for fighting infections. So we want to get the raw honey. We do not wanna heat the honey, so I do not recommend baking with honey. I don’t recommend, you know, cooking with it or putting it into like a stir fry or something. Like anything with heat, you wanna use it raw. And so if you’re making a tea, you would make the tea first, pour it into your glass, you know, just let it cool down a little bit. And then you would add the honey in. We also use honey on our, um, weekend love pancakes, our gluten-free vegan pancakes, which you can check out. Um, it’s a new published recipe,
#2. 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners: Maple syrup
Or it’s coming very soon depending when you listen to this podcast. So my kids love honey on our pancakes. I love honey as well. The next sweetener I recommend is maple syrup. Maple syrup actually has an incredible mix of nutrients and minerals including manganese, riboflavin, copper, calcium. If you’ve ever seen these incredible mighty trees that are being tapped from maple syrup, they’re literally, um, there’s a, there’s a little cut that happens and the maple syrup comes from these mighty trees. The respect that comes from maple syrup. I know the first time I saw it, I just thought, this is how it’s, this is how it comes to us. I was like, honey, the bees, this is amazing, right? So it’s like the sourcing, we start to feel that connection and then we start to make choices from this deeper, more connected place. So, um, a, a study from the University of Rhode Island found that, um, when people were mixing maple syrup, which has, um, polyphenols all these different antioxidants in them, um, and it was mixed with hydrogen peroxide and some other compounds, um, it was a, it was able to actually protect against toxic bacteria in their bodies.
So we think about the resilience of trees and these strong beings and nature that have been able to survive and grow and pull nutrients in and just create this incredible structure. And the same thing, we think about where these things are coming from. The bees have this incredible stamina. They’re going over hundreds of miles, they’re communicating with each other through dance and through community and they’re working. And there’s just so much we could go on and on about. Please do listen to my podcast. We’ll link to it in the show notes with, um, Jimmy, who is our incredible beekeeper, our local beekeeper in Hawaii, who is so knowledgeable about beekeeping and has such a deep respect for the bees. I think you’ll enjoy it very much. So maple syrup is also a great option. Of course, it’s a liquid form of sweetener, so we definitely wanna use it in moderation.
#3. 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners: Coconut Sugar
And the next sugar, uh, next sweetener sweetener I recommend is coconut sugar, which comes from our other beautiful plant friend, the Coconut Mighty Coconut, which has so many different uses from the coconut water to the rich, amazing coconut oil, which metabolizes well. And same thing here with the coconut sugar. It has minerals, it has, um, a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it doesn’t create spikes in blood sugar levels. And there was a study from 2021 from the Society of Nutrition and Food Science that found that coconut sugar was able to increase antioxidant biomarkers and helped exercise performance. So that’s interesting, isn’t it? And also another study I just wanna point out from the Journal of Applied Physiology found that coconut sugar seemed to reduce blood, sh blood pressure and arterial stiffness in middle-aged and older adults. So what’s interesting about coconut sugar, especially for baking, is that you can substitute it for white sugar in a one-to-one ratio.
So I always have it around for my baking needs. It’s something that can be heated just as coconut oil can be heated as well. So it’s good to have a liquid option and it’s good to have a powder, you know, a granulated option like coconut sugar in your, um, in your cabinet for sure. And then another great sweetener app option is yak syrup, yon <laugh>, which comes from the yon root. And again, I just love these incredible plants that are creating so much goodness, so many treasures for us to enjoy. And, um, this is a really long word, the fructooligosaccharides saccharides, which is the type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. But it’s really great for consuming this type of carb for beneficial health effects and also for women in particular with insulin resistance. So again, it comes from this root. We know some of our other root friends are ginger and turmeric, so this yon syrup is, um, sweetened and you can look for it in health markets or you can look for it online and check it out for yourself.
#4. 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners: Date sugar
If you’ve never tried it before, you might like the particular taste that it has. I like it very much. And now finally, another great syrup to to cr to have, and this is one that you can actually use, um, if you wanna sweeten, if you wanna have an extra sweet smoothie or you wanna make some kind of raw dessert. This is one I like in place of agave is date syrup. And dates are, again, we go back to these incredible plants. When you look at the date, palms that tend to grow in, you know, dry desert places they grow in, you know, the Middle East places like Saudi Arabia, they have incredible antioxidants, dates have calcium, they have minerals. They help to protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. So you could look at some of the studies we linked to about dates. I also love whole dates.
They are so rich and satisfying. You could just have one date and feel like you’ve had this incredible dessert. I also like the combination of dates with cacao. I think dates and chocolate are heavenly in incredible. So date syrup, again, is something you just wanna stock in your cabinet. You don’t need to have a lot of it, A little bit goes a long way. And so to sum up this idea of sweeteners as a really practical one, we wanna keep sweeteners around. We don’t need to have them all day every day. We don’t even need to have a lot of them in our life. But this madura sweet taste is one that we are naturally drawn to. So also make sure that you’re getting ripe fresh fruit and you’re having it in your Glowing Green Smoothie®. You’re having it in your life on an empty stomach because it’s important to get that madura taste into your body that way.
And fruit is the pinnacle of nature as well. It’s just a complete nutritional package with thousands of compounds that science hasn’t even completely measured. It is full of fiber, they’re full of vitamins, it’s just, you know, eating, consuming this incredible gift of nature. And then beyond that, the sweeteners that I recommend are raw honey that I recommend spreading on pancakes or maybe toasted sourdough bread or in a tea, but you don’t wanna cook it, you don’t wanna bake with it. And then maple syrup, which is very common and easy to source, make sure you get organic, of course full of antioxidants and minerals, coconut sugar, which is great for your baking needs. It has a lower glycemic index, it also contains minerals. And then the yon syrup and the date syrup, which you can play with, you can use in place of agave, you can use in, in, you know, different desserts.
You can also try on your pancakes and other places you like to use syrups. And of course check out some of our pancake recipes as well on my.com. So thank you so much for listening in today. And remember, if you have a question across any of our cornerstones, food, body, emotional wellbeing, or spiritual growth, please head over to myna.com. There’s the podcast tab, you can submit your question. I can almost guarantee whatever question you have, other beauties in our community will also have that question because we are all so connected and we’re all just trying to live our best life and we’re trying to do our best and feel our best. So thank you so much. I am so grateful for you. And we will be back here Monday for our next show. So to then take great care of yourself, I’ll also see you on social media. Perhaps my handle is at underscore Kimberly Snyder and on our, on our website. Now I also wanna mention that I’m starting to do more of my organic blogging again, so you could check out that part on Kim’s corner. Sending you lots of love, my love, and see you back here soon. [inaudible].
In addition, here is the 5th one listed below.
#5. 5 Healthiest Choices for Sweeteners: Yacon syrup
Yacon syrup is made from the yacon root, which is native to South America. It contains fructooligosaccharides, which are a type of fiber that the body cannot digest, making it a low-calorie sweetener. It also has a low glycemic index and can be used in place of sugar in recipes.