Sugar Substitutes

Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index is an indication of how quickly a specified amount of food will cause a rise in blood sugar level. The amount of food is the portion that contains 50 grams of carbohydrate (200 calories from carbs). So it is really an indication of how one carb compares to another.

Rating System for Glycemic Index:
Below 55 - low GI.
56 to 69 - medium GI.
Above 70 -high GI.

The glycemic index for sweeteners is a function of three things:

  1. The amount of carbohydrate present.
  2. The type of carbohydrate present.
  3. The presence of other substances (soluble fiber for example) that slow metabolism of carbohydrates.

Glucose has a glycemic index (GI) of 100 and fructose is 25. Sucrose (Ordinary sugar) which is made up of a combination of these two has a GI of 65.

The facts about sweeteners and sugar substitutes. 

Luo Han Guo (also known as Monk Fruit)

Luo Han Guo is one of the most exciting new sweeteners! It is a natural zero calorie sweetener, that has been known in China for about 800 years. The plant is native to the Guangxi province in southwestern China where it was also used for medicinal purposes. The local in the Guangxi province in southwestern China attribute their longevity to the consumption and medicinal use of Luo Han Guo. It has been used for many years in the treatment of sore throats, coughs and for fevers

It is produced in a totally natural way. The fruit is crushed and water used to extract the juice. This is filtered to obtain the mogroside v which gives the product its sweetness.

  • The sweetness comes from mogrosides which make up approx 1% of the fruit by weight and which are about 300 times as sweet as sugar.
  • It contains important antioxidants.
  • It has a zero glycemic index and is suitable for diabetics
  • It contains no calories.
  • It is a natural product.
  • It is heat stable, with a long shelf life.
  • On it's own it has a good clean taste, better than Stevia, and without the bitter aftertaste.
  • It is the most expensive intense sweetener.. 


No upper ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) has been set as it is considered very safe. Testing has been carried out on rodents and dogs at high levels with no adverse reactions whatsoever. This is all good news, even better than Stevia, and would give a lot of confidence regarding the use of this product.



Xylitol is probably the best known sugar alcohol (polyol). It has been used as a sweetener for over 50 years. It occurs in small quantities in some fruit and vegetables, including strawberries and raspberries. There are many ways of producing it. The most natural, but least cost effective is to extract it from birch. But most of what is commercially available could hardly be considered natural due to the method of production: This involves the chemical hydrogenation of D-xylose into xylitol by the presence of a nickel catalyst


  • It has an excellent taste, comparable to sugar
  • It has a very low glycemic index (Only 10 - sugar is 65) and and is suitable for diabetics
  • It has fewer calories than sugar. (62% for the same sweetness)
  • It has very little aftertaste
  • It contains no fructose
  • It is not too expensive.
  • It is tooth friendly


Safety Guidelines:

No official guidelines are issued for Xylitol. The FDA does not issue an ADI (acceptable daily intake) for sugar alcohols. Nevertheless problems have occurred, including weight loss, for individuals who consumed large quantities over sustained periods. 50g daily is the generally agreed upper limit. Note: Some people can be allergic to this sugar alcohol, and it is very toxic to dogs, just a few sticks of gum could prove potentially fatal.Source:

As with most sugar alcohols it has a slightly laxative effect It does have a slightly laxative effect and it is not recommended to consume more than 50 gm per day. However higher usage tends to lead to a tolerance over a period of time, the body gets used to it. Individuals have consumed large quantities over prolonged periods with no adverse effects at all.


 Like all sugar alcohols it is not metabolized by bacteria in the mouth and so it does not contribute to tooth decay. In fact clinical trials have shown it to be very beneficial in dental hygiene, it tends to reduce plaque and delay the onset of tooth decay. It appears to be far superior in this regard than other sugar alcohols, such as Sorbital. It has also been shown to have other benefits, particularly with regard to the formation of calcium in the bones. It also is used to treat middle ear infections. Test after test have demonstrated it's effectiveness in reducing caries, bacteria in the gums and plaque.


Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup is a natural unprocessed sweetener, sourced from maple trees. No chemicals or enzymes are used in the process, it is a totally natural product. A hole is drilled into the tree and a tap inserted to allow the sap to flow. This is collected in a bucket, or sometimes with tubes connected to a container or pouch. The liquid obtained is mostly water and must be boiled down to produce the syrup.

  • It has an excellent flavor
  • It's glycemic index is about 54, slightly lower than sugar.
  • It is a very good source of certain minerals including magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.
  • It contains B vitamins
  • is very useful in cooking.


Safety Guidelines:

The World Health Organization recommend no more than 50gm refined sugar per day (about 12 small teaspoons) for an average adult. This would apply to all sugars including maple syrup.


There are many imitation products on the market, these are often served in restaurants. They are usually made out of high fructose corn syrup with coloring and Fenugreek spice added which gives a very similar flavor. They are much cheaper than the genuine article but are probably best avoided.


Coconut blossom syrup

Coconut blossom syrup is extracted sap from the blooms of the coconut. The nectar is collected from the blooms of the coconut and is boiled to remove the water and concentrate the sugar. Unlike other forms of sugar production, chemicals are not used either to modify or extract the sugar.

  • It is truly a natural product
  • it has a pleasant taste.
  • it has a low glycemic index
  • it is a good source of minerals and vitamins polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous and other phytonutrients
  • it is suitable for a raw food diet.
  • It is not refined in any way
  • Enzymes are not used to convert any of the sugars
  • it contains no fibre
  • It is also a reputed to be a very sustainable form of agriculture.
  • It is expensive
  • It is versatile and now readily available 

As natural product it does not require approval.



Stevioside is a natural sweetener that is an extract of Stevia.

Stevia is a plan native to South America, and particularly Paraguay. Its leaves are about 30 times the sweetness of sugar. The sweetness comes from two compounds in the plant called stevioside and rebaudioside, and they are up to 480 times as sweet as sugar.

  • It has strong bitter aftertaste
  • It has Zero glycemic index.
  • It is Very sweet.
  • It is not harmful to teeth.
  • It contains no carbohydrates.
  • It is heat stable 

Approval: Approved in EU as E960.  Rare adverse effects, delayed effects, or effects that occur only with long-term use may not be identified initially. One study showed that high dosages fed to rats reduced sperm production and increased cell proliferation in their testicles, which could cause infertility or other problems. In the laboratory, steviol can be converted into a mutagenic compound, which may promote cancer by causing mutations in the cells’ DNA. [] In the 1990s, the U.S. FDA rejected stevia for use as a food ingredient. In 1995, the FDA issued a statement allowing stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, and so it has to be labeled. Likewise, Canada and a European Community scientific panel did not approve it and declared that stevia was unacceptable for use in food.[Sweet on Stevia: Sugar Substitute Gains Fans, Columbia Daily Tribune. [Last accessed on 2011 Mar 4];2008 Mar 23; ]


Artificial sweeteners.

Some observational studies link zero-calorie sweeteners to obesity and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s best to limit artificial sweeteners in your diet