So, along, your keto living way, you will choose to use sweeteners. It’s just inevitable…
Here are three choices that may do the least harm to you:
Stevia is South American in origin, and the leaves were used by indigenous peoples in teas, medicines, or to chew as a treat. Today, commercial use and marketing of stevia leaves is not permitted in the Unites States. Instead, the active sweet compounds, known as stevia glycosides, are extracted and refined to meet the US requirements. The FDA has designated the refined extract as “Generally Regarded as Safe.” As of today production includes more than forty steps, and China is the leading grower and producer of this extract worldwide. It can be purchased as a liquid, powder, or granulated, although the granulated form contains dextrose.
Stevia has no calories, no carbs, doesn’t raise blood sugar, and is very sweet (200-350 times the sweetness of sugar.)
Many people, however, find that stevia has a bitter after taste (me included), and it also cannot simply be swapped out in lieu of sugar into existing recipes. There is not enough existing data as yet to know its impact on the health of frequent users.
Erythritol is made of fermented corn or cornstarch, and is a sugar alcohol. It is only partially absorbed and digested by the intestinal tract, which can cause some folks gastrointestinal issues.
It, however, has no calories, no carbs, and this active compound passes into the urine without being used by the body, which is a big plus. Its granulated form is easy to be used to replace sugar in recipes, and it may prevent dental plaque and cavities compared to other sweeteners. It is 70% as sweet as table sugar.
Again, as with stevia, erythritol doesn’t taste like sugar, and it can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people, though to a lesser degree than some other sugar alcohols. Its effect on the kidneys long term is not known as of this time.
The newer sugar substitute on the market is monk fruit, so called because it was cultivated by monks in Northern Thailand and Southern China. It is derived from a round, green fruit, and was dried and used in herbal teas, soups, and broths.
While monk fruit contains fructose and sucrose, it is non-caloric compounds called mogrosides that makes it sweet. Proctor and Gamble patented a method of solvent extraction of the mogrosides from monk fruit in 1995. Although the FDA has not ruled monk fruit as “Generally Regarded as Safe), it has publicly noted that it accepts the manufacturer’s determination as such.
Monk fruit is often mixed with stevia to give it better taste and to lessen stevia’s after taste. It can also be mixed with erythritol ti improve cooking flavor. Monk fruit does not generally cause digestive upsets.
However, monk fruit is expensive, and some “propriety blends” have little active mogroside ingredients.
Next, low carb sweeteners…