Wellness Wednesday | Sugar Substitutes

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY | SUGAR SUBSTITUTES


Oh yes – we all know of the dreaded sweet tooth and how easy it is to be tempted sugary treats. Try some of these healthier sugar substitutes next time the sweet tooth strikes.


At Landmark Dental Centre, we are first to suggest Xylitol instead of sugar, with many of the dental products that we recommend and sell containing Xylitol. Here’s why…

Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat. When you eat food containing ordinary sugar (sucrose), it gives bacteria on your teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that can eat away the enamel on the teeth. This “acid attack” causes tooth decay and cavities to begin to form. Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With the dental benefits of Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped.

Less Bacteria, Less Acid – Healthier Teeth!

Because the bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases.

Repairing Damaged Enamel

Research has shown that the use of xylitol also helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva in itself protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva, in particular, contains all the components needed to repair early cavities. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth’s own defensive tools are not enough.

The dental benefits of xylitol also include saliva. Saliva that has xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak. Therefore, soft, calcium-deficient enamel sites begin to harden again. While reversing a rising trend of negative health and high health-care costs won’t happen overnight, improving your own health can begin sooner than later, and the dental benefits of xylitol can have a significant influence on that trend.

 

Among Xylitol, there are a variety of alternatives to sugar that can add a little extra sweetness to your day.


〉Agave Nectar

History lesson time: The Aztecs used agave thousands of years ago and praised this syrup as a gift from gods. A derivative of the same plant as tequila, this golden sweetener tastes similar to honey and is perfect for hot or iced tea.

〉Maple Syrup

The benefits of maple syrup are plenty: It comes directly from a plant’s sap and contains over 50 antioxidants. Make sure to grab real maple syrup rather than processed maple syrups like Aunt Jemima.

Honey

Thanks to bees, this scrumptious stuff packs an antioxidant punch. Enjoy some in hot tea to help soothe a scratchy throat, or get creative and add a spoonful to homemade salad dressing.

Applesauce

Instead of a half-cup white sugar in a batch of oatmeal cookies, swap in an equal amount of applesauce! The natural sweetness from a Golden Delicious or Fuji apple is perfect for an after-dinner treat. Purchase the no-sugar-added kind, or make some at home.

Erythritol

This sugar alcohol is practically a guilt-free sweet solution. At 0.2 calories per gram, the white powder from a plant occurs naturally in many fruits. Plus, it doesn’t lead to tooth decay and other not-so-sweet effects of sugar consumption. It’s not quite as sweet as natural sugar, so try it in chocolate baked goods like brownies.

Cinnamon

Spice up a morning cup of coffee with cinnamon. This super spice adds subtle sweetness while boosting immunity, no calories included.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

For a warm winter treat, mix some unsweetened cocoa powder in a glass of hot water or skim milk. It’ll satisfy that sweet tooth without all the extra sugar the sweetened version includes. Add a splash of vanilla extract for extra flavor!

Reb A

Hailing from South America, this natural extract comes from the stevia plant. It only takes a drop or two to sweeten a bowl of oatmeal.

Coconut Sugar

Get a little tropical and use coconut sugar in a fruit smoothie. Made from the sap of coconut flowers, this natural sugar comes in a block, paste, or granulated form. Plus, it’s loaded with potassium, which helps keep our bones strong.

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup comes from (you guessed it!) brown rice. More nutritious than its high-fructose alternative, this buttery and nutty flavored syrup is perfect for granola bars and baked bread.

Rapadura

This sweet treat’s made from sugar cane but skips the refining stage, so it retains vitamins and minerals lost when white sugar is processed. Keep the one-to-one ratio when swapping Rapadura for sugar in baked goods.

Puréed Banana

In the next loaf of banana bread, try using extra-ripe bananas and eliminating the sugar. The fruit naturally becomes sweeter as it ripens, so there’s no need for extra sugar.

〉Milk 

The natural sugar in milk adds a touch of sweetness to that morning cup of Joe, so think twice before adding a teaspoon or two of sugar. The lactose in milk may do the trick.

Natural Frozen Juice Concentrate

Use apple juice concentrate in homemade apple pie. With additional fiber and antioxidants, the pie will be a sweet solution for a nutritious dessert!

Barley Malt Extract

Derived from barley, this protein-packed syrup is perfect in a pecan or pumpkin pie. The dark syrup’s similar to molasses and will enhance the flavor of any baked treat.

Sucanat

Introducing sugar in its most natural state! Sucanat is a sneaky acronym that stands for SUgar CAne NATural. This sweetener is made from organic cane sugar and packs in some nutrients white sugar lacks.

Apricot Puree

Apricots are a nutritional A+ with vitamin C, fiber, and iron. Make some of the sweet stuff right at home and mix it in plain Greek yogurt or enjoy it with hearty whole-grain bread.

Tea Leaves

Fruity or earthy leaves like pomegranate and green tea are naturally sugar-free and add an extra nutritional kick to any beverage.

Molasses

What happens when sugar cane, grapes, and beets get together? Molasses! Use this dark syrup in a recipe for gingerbread cookies. It’ll add some extra iron and calcium, which makes the cookies healthy, right?

Balsamic Glaze

Add a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze to angel food cake. Simply simmer balsamic vinegar until it forms a thick syrup.

Yacón Syrup

A sweetening agent extracted from the yacón plant, this molasses-y syrup has hints of apple and just half the calories of cane sugar. It’s sweet just like honey, so a little goes a long way in baked goods and raw fruit smoothies.