Sweeteners & Low-carb, MSG-free

I get a lot of questions about sweeteners. Many people want to avoid sugar, or must avoid sugar due to other health issues such as diabetes.  Unfortunately, all artificial sweeteners are excitotoxic and should be avoided if you are avoiding free glutamic acid/MSG/glutamate.  Here are a list of my favorite sweeteners and some random thoughts about them. Please do your own research about whichever one you choose.

Sugar — Beet sugar sometimes has FGA and I avoid it, but cane sugar is only a problem when it causes hypoglycemia in the presence of other FGA.  Our family does fine with sugar if we balance it with other foods, and if we haven’t eaten FGA-containing foods.

Palm sugar — I just heard about this recently on Dr. Oz. It is a nutrient-rich, purportedly (though not uncontested) low-glycemic crystalline sweetener that looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar. It is gaining popularity in the progressive global health community as an alternative to agave. (http://www.naturalnews.com/028996_palm_sugar_natural_sweetener.html)

Lo-Han Extract (SlimSweet) — This is my absolute favorite all natural sweetener. With no aftertaste and an aroma of brown sugar, it makes a very nice coffee sweetener. A little goes a long way — you only need about 1/4 as much as you would otherwise use. My favorite brand is “Slimsweet”, available from vitacost.com .  I don’t bake with it, though I believe you can. I don’t think it tastes very sweet when baked.

Stevia — Stevia is touted by every naturopathic doctor I’ve ever talked to, and is generally thought safe for everyone. It’s not very expensive “per dose” and can be used in baking. However, it can sometimes have a strange aftertaste.  Some brands are better than others.

Xylitol — Xylitol is great for baking though if you use too much it can cause a little intestinal upset.  http://askdrellie.blogspot.com/2006/12/xylitol-and-diabetes.html .

Erythritol — A sugar alcohol, erythritol is used just like xylitol, substituted in recipes for sugar, but doesn’t have any of the intestinal upset. Unfortunately, erythritol can be quite expensive.

Sugar Alcohols (Xylitol, Erythritol, Maltitol) don’t have FGA in them from what I can tell, but are usually corn-based (for those with corn sensitivity) and are highly processed, so they may have some residual FGA in them. I couldn’t find any data.

Agave — I used agave quite a bit years ago, avoided agave for a while, and now use it again in small quantities after listening to Ray Peat talk about fructose not being so awful in small quantities. We’ve not experienced any issues with it.  Opinions seem to be mixed for diabetics.

Maple syrup/Honey — Yum!  Act like sugar so watch out for hypoglycemia, but no issues as far as I know with excitotoxins.

Molasses — Molasses is a “proceed with caution” foods. MSG is often made from molasses. It is likely to contain some small amount of free glutamate, and your degree of sensitivity plus the amount you ingest will determine whether you react or not.  I use a little for flavor here and there without problems, but I don’t use it as a syrup or sweetener. Avoid sulphured molasses.

Sorghum syrup — I grew up on this stuff and love it. I think it’s safe but don’t have any hard data.

Coconut flour — This is a high-fiber, very low-carb “flour” that you can use to bake with. It takes much less coconut flour to bake with than other flours. I have a great recipe for low-carb coconut flour, egg muffins. Here are some recipes (I’m totally trying that brownie recipe!)


For another perspective I found, here’s an article I found interesting:


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