Ask The Wellness Chef: Sugar, Stevia, or Monkfruit, Which Is Best?
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Ask The *Wellness Chef
Sugar, Stevia, or Monkfruit, Which Is Best?
“Is Stevia always a better alternative to sugar?”
-Nancy R. Coppell, TX
Yes and No. I am not a promotor of “white sugar.” To be more specific, the delicious white granular that we all know too well. Readily available on grocery store shelves. Leaving little resemblance to its origin, sugar cane. White sugar offers zero vitamins or minerals, leaving you with empty calories that turn into stored fat.
Stevia is new to the scene in the US. Only approved by the FDA in 2008 as an additive. Stevia is a tiny leaf that is 2-300 times sweeter than sugar. A tiny leaf that packs a big punch, people have been enjoying this plant on record since the 16th century.
There are several types of Stevia available for purchase in grocery stores everywhere. Truvia is a blend of erythritol, a type of sugar alcohol, and Stevia. If you read the label closely, it does have “natural flavors.” This is quite controversial, taking away the purity of the tiny leaf. Pure or minimally processed Stevia is available in tablet or liquid forms at your local health food store. Stevia does have a slightly bitter taste for my palette. I stick to a liquid form that I use daily in coffee.
When baking or cooking, they both will offer different tastes and textures. Cookies, cakes, and candies are fussy. As a Wellness Chef, neither Stevia nor white sugar is part of my mise en place. If a client is not watching sugar intake or baking for a treat, I lean towards sugar in the raw. The heavier crystals lend great texture to cookies and cakes. However, to be clear, they will darken egg whites, leaving a soft caramel-like color to otherwise white-colored batters. When baking, the recipe creator typically uses a granulated white sugar of some sort. Sugar in the raw or turbinado is the best substitute that I have found.
Lower sugar options for baking. My preference is Monkfruit. Specifically, Lankanto. I have had great success using a 1-1 ratio. Monkfruit sugar can be used in a 1-1 ratio, with no special calculations needed. While I put a lot of time into my client’s needs, when I’m behind the stove, I have to be prepared. I need ingredients that not only fit their lifestyle but are consistent. Lankanto has proven to do both. It offers the baking texture of white sugar while reducing the glycemic index.
The most controversial ingredient in both Truvia and Lankanto sugar substitutes is erythritol. This ingredient is a form of sugar alcohol. For some, that is digestion doom. Eaten in small quantities is best, like all forms of sugar.
*Wellness. My definition of wellness in this context is a focus overall on clean eating, and health with a focus on living the healthiest life possible. Balance is necessary to achieve wellness. Fruits, veggies daily, enjoyed with a slice of cake, occasionally.