Most of us enjoy a little something sweet in our coffee to give it flavor or enhance the taste. But too much sweetening your coffee comes at a cost to your health. Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds by using healthy sweeteners in your coffee.
Healthy sweeteners will sweeten your coffee without spiking your blood sugar levels. Research-backed options include monk fruit, stevia, agave nectar, honey, and maple syrup.
This article will teach you all about healthy ways to sweeten your coffee so you can enjoy your coffee while still prioritizing your health.
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What’s So Bad About Normal Sugar?
If you consistently add cane sugar to your coffee and enjoy the taste, you might wonder what’s so bad about a little sugar in your coffee.
We care so much about what you use to sweeten your coffee because of your blood sugar response. Cane sugar has been linked to significantly raising your blood sugar levels.
It’s okay to experience spikes in your blood sugar here and there, but if you do it consistently, your body may be unable to keep up. This could result in becoming insulin-insensitive over time.
Insulin is the hormone that essentially lets your blood sugar into the cells themselves. And if you constantly spike your blood sugar, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin over time. As a result, that sugar remains in your bloodstream.
When this process happens consistently, it is how people can potentially develop Type 2 diabetes. And type 2 diabetes is associated with kidney dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, vision-related issues, and neuropathy.
1) Monk Fruit in Your Coffee
So if cane sugar isn’t the best option for your health, what can you do to sweeten your coffee? Don’t worry! There are various sweeteners better for you and your blood sugar.
One of these options is called monk fruit. Monk fruit is a sweetener derived from the luo han guo plant from Southern China. It’s a zero-calorie sweetener that typically comes in a powder or liquid form.
Research has shown that monk fruit doesn’t cause a sudden spike in your blood sugar like cane sugar. This means it’s overall better for your health and places you at a lower risk of developing diabetes.
Monk fruit is often described as very sweet, and the FDA reports it tastes 200 times sweeter than cane sugar. Be sure to start with a small amount when first adding it to your coffee to avoid a coffee that tastes overly sweet.
2) Stevia in Your Coffee
Stevia is a more commonly known sweetener you may have come across at the store. It is created using the leaves of the stevia plant that is native to South America.
Like monk fruit, research has shown that stevia will not spike your blood sugar quite as high as standard sugar. This makes stevia another healthy sweetener option when it comes to your coffee.
However, stevia is also considered significantly sweeter tasting than cane sugar. Most sources claim it’s somewhere between 100 to 300 times sweeter than standard sugar.
Stevia has zero calories and comes in both powder and liquid forms. The powder and liquid forms will mix well in coffee, but be sure to add them slowly until you reach your desired sweetness level.
3) Agave Nectar in Your Coffee
Another healthy option you can easily pick up at your grocery store to sweeten your coffee is agave nectar.
Agave nectar is a syrup-like sweetener made from the blue agave plant. The average tablespoon of agave nectar has about 21 calories making it a relatively low-calorie sweetener.
Compared to standard sugar sources, agave nectar has been shown to promote better blood glucose control and reduce weight gain. This will help you manage your weight and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Like the other sweeteners we’ve discussed, agave is often described as about 1.5 times sweeter than cane sugar. Needless to say, a little bit can go a long way when it comes to sweetening your coffee.
4) Honey in Your Coffee
One sweetener you’re sure to have heard of is honey. Many people have claimed that honey is a healthier sweetener than table sugar, but are they right?
This is an instance where the crowd is correct. Research indicates that honey causes a significantly reduced spike in your blood sugar compared to cane sugar.
The same study also showed it was less likely to result in weight gain than cane sugar. However, honey does come in at a higher calorie count than the other sweeteners we’ve discussed, with an average of 64 calories per tablespoon.
Honey is also described as about 25% sweeter than standard sugar. Compared to the other healthy sweeteners we’ve discussed, it may take more honey to achieve your desired sweetness. This may add unwanted calories to your cup of joe.
Of course, honey is still healthier than cane sugar and is probably a sweetener you already have available at home.
5) Maple Syrup in Your Coffee
Another sweetener you may already have at home is maple syrup. Turns out maple syrup is made for more than just putting on top of your pancakes.
Maple syrup is derived from the sap of maple trees. It clocks in at an average of 52 calories per tablespoon, making it slightly lower in calories than honey.
Studies have shown that maple syrup reduces your blood glucose spike and can even reduce inflammation in your liver relative to cane sugar. This is great news for your health if you’re a maple syrup lover.
Like honey, this isn’t the lowest-calorie sweetener option out there. So be mindful not to go overboard when loading your coffee with maple syrup.
All Things in Moderation
Now you are equipped with a large variety of healthy sweetener options that you can use for your next cup of coffee. But if you still want that cane sugar, I’ll at least give you a few guidelines.
Most registered dietitians seem to indicate that 1 to 2 teaspoons per day in a cup of coffee is probably okay for your health. The problem is most of us tend to add much more than this amount.
You have to pull out your measuring spoons if you’re going to use cane sugar and any of these alternative options to be mindful of how much you use.
Even with the healthier sweeteners, remember the timeless adage, “all things in moderation.” Because even too much of a healthy sweetener may not be the best for your overall health.
Everyone enjoys a sweet cup of coffee from time to time. Some of us more than others. But it can be hard to prioritize your health while still enjoying a sweet cup of coffee.
The primary concern with coffee sweetened with cane sugar is your blood glucose response. When you consistently spike your blood sugar levels, you place yourself at risk for developing diabetes and other health complications.
Some research-backed healthy sweeteners you could use to replace cane sugar include monk fruit, stevia, agave nectar, honey, and maple syrup.
Remember that many of these healthy sweeteners taste sweeter than standard sugar, so you will not need as much. You also should consider the overall caloric value of the healthy sweeteners, as you could still increase the calorie content of your coffee with them if you’re not careful.
Now it’s time to put these healthy sweeteners to the test. With a little experimentation, you can find the option that creates that perfectly sweet cup of coffee without compromising your overall health.
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