Herein are the details of the sweeteners and sugar substitutes that I am actively using in my baking experiments, or ones that I have used in the past. This list is my no means exhaustive – there are a lot of options out there, but I think it’s only fair to include what I’ve learned on my sugar-free journey thus far. To be honest, this is mostly anecdotal from my point of view, fleshed out with a lot of google-based research and stuff that sounds like it should probably make sense.
But first, let’s talk about all those ‘sugar substitutes’ you keep seeing everywhere:
…do you want to know what all of these have in common? They are all sugar, with at least 50% fructose. The primary culprit in what we call ‘sugar’ (generally taken to mean ‘the white granulated stuff’) is fructose. Virtually every other type of carbohydrate can be converted by your body to glucose, which can be absorbed by every single cell in your body (after passing straight through your liver). Fructose, on the other hand, can only be processed by your liver, and your liver can only cope with a small amount at a time. The majority that it receives (and take into account that an average American consumes 300% more than the maximum recommended amount every day) will get converted to fat in a process called lipogenesis. This can (and does) get stored in your fat cells, and can all-too quickly lead to weight gain and obesity. But if you give the liver enough fructose, fat will begin to accumulate inside your liver, and that can lead to a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. You can read more about the effects of fructose on your liver (and heart), then check out this article at Harvard Medical School.
With all that out of the way, let’s get to the sweeteners!