How to Choose a Healthy Natural Sweetener for Kids

If you’re worried that your child is eating too much sugar, but you’re wary of artificial sugar substitutes, consider using natural sweeteners in their diet to satisfy their sweet tooth. Healthy natural sweeteners allow your child to indulge in desserts and treats without compromising their health and wellness.  

 In this post, you’ll learn the difference between natural sweeteners and artificial sugars, the best available natural sweeteners, and how they fit into a balanced, nutritious diet.

Natural Sweeteners vs. Artificial Sugars

Many products marketed as being “sugar-free” contain artificial sugar substitutes like aspartame, saccharin, or acesulfame-K. These chemically derived artificial sugars mimic the sweetness of real sugar but can adversely affect the gut microbiome, increase sugar cravings, and create aversions to savory foods.  

Avoiding refined sugars and artificial sugars is the best practice when allowing your child to indulge in sweets. Natural sweeteners provide an excellent alternative. They are easily substituted for refined sugars and derived from plants and herbs.

Which Natural Sweetener is Best for Your Child?

While natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and agave share many similarities, there are also some key differences. 

Stevia 

Stevia is sourced from an herb found in Central and South America. It can be easily added to beverages for a sweeter sip or sauces to cut acidity. Stevia prevents weight gain and can help with blood sugar control. 

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is also known as Luo Han Guo, a small fruit found in China. It has been used for thousands of years by Chinese medicine healers and is known for its natural sweetness. Like the stevia plant, it does not cause blood sugar to spike or disrupt the biological processes of our bodies. In addition, monk fruit contains no calories and has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Agave

Agave is a plant native to Mexico that produces a low-calorie natural alternative to refined sugar. There are two preparations of agave: powder and syrup. The powder is essentially tasteless and can be used to sweeten beverages and in cooked and baked goods. In addition, agave powder has a low glycemic index, phytonutrient, and antioxidant properties. 

Natural Sweeteners and a Healthy Diet

Just as with refined and artificial sugars, foods that contain natural sweeteners should not be the main staple in your child’s diet. Instead, the goal is to offer your child nutrient-dense foods rich in minerals and vitamins to help them grow into healthy adults. 

Choosing natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, or agave is a healthy, safe way to allow your kids to eat sweets and treats while reaping the benefits of their antioxidant, phytonutrient, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

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