Sugar free desserts CAN taste good and be low glycemic! The days are gone when you have to turn to sugar free processed foods made with sugar substitutes that taste terrible. In fact, AVOID the sugar free label. This is because "sugar free" often means the product is loaded with high glycemic ingredients.
Be suspicious of highly processed, packaged desserts that are labeled "sugar free." It's far better to eat the low glycemic sweeteners on the low glycemic food list. Most of the commercial, sugar substitutes that are in these processed foods are high glycemic. The best diet foods are usually NOT labeled "sugar free." However, they are in fact sucrose (table sugar) free.
According to the Glycemic Research Institute there are natural, low glycemic sugars that do not stimulate fat storage and do not elevate your blood sugar. These are the ones you want to use when making sugar free dessert recipes.
|coconut (palm) sugar||ki-sweet||xylitol||inulin juice complex||erythritol||talin (S. African fruit)||fructose (made from fruit only)||stevia||agave syrup|
Again, you need to read labels! When you want a sweetener for your tea, coffee or cereal or for a low glycemic recipe these natural sugars will not raise your blood sugar. When you are baking or just want a sugar free dessert, go to your natural foods store and find coconut (palm) sugar. It's made from the coconut palm and the texture is very close to table sugar.
When I talk about sugar free desserts what I mean is desserts that do not contain sucrose which is refined, white, table sugar, but they DO contain a low glycemic sweetener or just fresh fruit. So, what you are looking for are the low glycemic sweeteners listed above.
You do NOT have to give up sweets to maintain healthy fat loss! Have sugar free desserts made with low glycemic sweeteners. Yes, there are good sugars and bad sugars just as there are good fats and the "synthetic" bad fats. Low glycemic recipes can include natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, fructose, erythritol, stevia or agave syrup that do NOT elevate blood sugar and actually have health benefits. The best diet foods have the low glycemic sweeteners.
Widely used in Asian cooking, palm sugar as it is called or coconut
sugar, is gaining popularity as a substitute for sucrose. It's not only low glycemic, 5 grams of palm sugar only has 4 grams of sugar, so it's low on the glycemic index but it has lots of nutrients! It has an even grittier texture than fructose and some
would argue a better taste. Because you can use it as a substitute for sugar in a 1:1 ratio it's easy to use in any of your baking recipes calling for sugar.
It will NOT raise your blood sugar AND it contains 16 amino acids, magnesium, nitrogen, zinc, potassium and calcium. It has become my new favorite sweetener for my tea and for baking. It's made from the nectar of the coconut flower blossom.
Fructose, on the other hand, used to be made from fruit, at least according to some natural foods retail outlets who carried it in bulk. Now it is made from high fructose corn syrup which is one of the worst high glycemic sugars you can eat. It's more refined than table sugar and it has an even more detrimental effect on blood sugar than sucrose. Studies have shown that consuming large amounts of fructose impairs the body's ability to process blood sugar and leads to elevated insulin and the development of insulin resistance. Fructose adversely affects blood lipids and blood pressure which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and it interferes with nutrient absorption. *
Obviously, coconut palm sugar is a far better choice for baking. Palm sugar is more expensive and you have to buy it packaged but since most of us don't bake that often and you don't need that much, it's worth paying a little more.
There are more low glycemic sweeteners listed on the printable list on the Glycemic Index List of Foods page. Erythritol is the latest one to be discovered that I know of and it's still hard to find. I have not tried it yet but I have read that it tastes more like sugar than other sugar alcohols.
It's being made by NOW and it's in some health food stores and can also be purchased online from Amazon. Erythritol is a natural sugar alcohol that occurs in fruits and fermented foods and does not affect blood sugar.
If you eat too much of it it can have a laxative affect but it does not cause digestive discomfort as some of the other sweeteners do.
Stevia and xylitol are also natural sugar alcohols. Xylitol is added to many products for sweetness including gum. Dentists sometimes recommend it because it "starves" harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. There are even toothpastes on the market that contain xylitol because it is so helpful in preventing tooth decay.
I have used stevia and I find the flavor too intensely sweet.
However, it has the added benefit of being good for your digestion. Another tasty low glycemic sweetener is agave syrup which is widely
available in natural foods stores. It tastes a little like a mild
maple syrup and is low glycemic. For baking sugar free
desserts I use coconut (palm) sugar and substitute it for sugar 1:1.
Although it may not seem possible now. you will find that as you eat low glycemic foods your sugar cravings will disappear and table sugar will be too sweet for you. Sometimes it's better to just give it up cold turkey and switch to the low glycemic sweeteners. You'll feel so much better and you really will not miss it. If you have symptoms of type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance do not let anything sweet pass your lips!
However, having said that, unless you are insulin resistant already it's really ok to have desserts made from sugar once in a great while. It's not so addictive that you'll want to start eating it regularly. Otherwise, you might feel too deprived, especially on the holidays.
I don't recommend eating ice cream but if when you are changing your eating habits you get the urge to have some just eat it with chopped nuts and have nothing else for your meal. The protein reduces the glycemic impact and it will fill you up. And of course you'll be able to make all the desserts you did before using coconut palm sugar as a substitute for refined sugar. You can still make fruit pies or cobblers using whole wheat pastry flour.
It is possible to create delicious sugar free desserts. Once you have stopped eating so much sugar most recipes will taste much too sweet. You can reduce the amount and substitute a low glycemic sweetener. Here's a new habit to cultivate - eat fresh fruit for dessert! Save the low glycemic sweetened desserts for special occasions.
"The amount of fat the body absorbs after a meal is greater when that meal includes sugar." (Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1999;18)
*Reiser, S., et al. 1985. Indices of copper status in humans consuming a typical American diet containing either fructose of starch. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 42(2):242-251,
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