We know a lot about sugar and artificial sweeteners. We read about them in magazines, learn about them in health class, and hear about them on TV news. Some research says that sugar isn’t good for us, and some artificial sweeteners can actually be harmful to our health. Most experts agree, though, that we just need to be careful about how much sugar we use and what kind of sweetener we use.
- White sugar has been “refined.” That means it has been removed from a plant like sugar cane, and then chemicals are used to make it white and grainy.
- Raw sugar has not been through as much processing as white sugar.
- Coconut sugar is made from … yep, coconuts!
- Honey is a natural sweetener, and tastes great in smoothies. It’s not as high in calories as white sugar.
- Agave nectar is usually found in liquid form, and it looks sort of like honey. It comes from the agave plant and can be used just like honey or sugar.
- Stevia comes from the leaves of … you guessed it … the stevia plant. It is important to look for “pure stevia” so you don’t get an artificial form of it.
- “Artificial sweeteners” are usually easy to spot because they have really long names. Those names are fancy words for the chemicals used to create the sweeteners. A lot of people use these artificial sweeteners. (Look at all the food you have from the grocery store, and you might find artificial sweeteners in places you didn’t expect!)
- We think that natural sweeteners are better!
If you’re going to choose a soda pop, those that contain real sugar are better for you. But even better than that, choose water. Or a naturally sweetened sparkling water. Or milk. Or real fruit juice.