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All About Natural Sweeteners: Agave Syrup, Cane Sugar, Stevia

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Hi Hungry Girl,

I've been using no-calorie sweeteners (artificial ones) in my coffee and tea for years, but I want to make the switch to something natural. Still, I don't want to add real sugar and all the calories that come with it. Are agave syrup and cane sugar good options?

Looking for Sweetener Solutions

All About Natural Sweeteners

Dear Looking,

This is a great question. Agave syrup and cane sugar are natural, and some experts say they're healthier than white sugar. However, this doesn't mean they're any lower in calories than ordinary refined sugar. Here's the 411 on agave and cane sugar, plus a zero-calorie natural sweetener I love...

All about agave syrup... Sometimes called agave nectar, agave syrup comes from the agave plant and has about 60 calories per tablespoon; the same amount of refined white sugar has about 45 calories. However, it only takes 2/3 cup of agave syrup to equal the sweetness in a cup of sugar, so the calories you consume are basically identical. The reason some people prefer agave is that it has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar; consuming too many carbs with high glycemic indexes has been linked to increased risk of heart disease.

Cane sugar 101... Cane sugar is basically less processed white sugar. Each tablespoon has around 45 calories, just like refined white sugar. Since cane sugar goes through less chemical processing, it's often considered more natural than white sugar.

FYI: Eating too much added sugar (the kinds other than those naturally occurring in fruits, dairy, etc.) of any kind has certain health risks. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugars to 100 calories or less per day; men should have no more than 150 calories a day. And those limits include the added sugars found in bread, snacks, etc. They add up fast!

Looking for natural sweetness without the calories and health risks that come with excess sugar? Try stevia and stevia-based sweeteners. Stevia, a plant-based sweetener, has zero calories. And it's sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way. I especially love Truvia -- it tastes really similar to sugar. I carry packets of the stuff in my purse and use the Brown Sugar Blend in my growing oatmeal. That blend has 5 calories per 1/2-tsp. serving, and it's the best!

There you have it... Stay sweet!

Lots of people are making the switch to natural sweeteners. Share this helpful info... Click "Send to a Friend" now!

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