Sweet Solutions: The Best Sugar Substitutes
What it is: Three naturally occurring sugars--fructose, the sugar in
fruit; sucrose, or table sugar; and lactose, the sugar in milk--are blended to
create this sweetener. While individually the sugars are fully caloric, when
blended in Whey Low they interact in such a way that they aren't completely
absorbed into the body. As a result, at four calories per teaspoon, Whey Low
has one quarter of the calories and less than one third of the glycemic index
of sugar, so you're less likely to crash after consuming it. It's available in
varieties similar to granular sugar, brown sugar, maple sugar, and
Where to find it: At grocery stores, like Whole Foods Market, online
at wheylow.com, and in some baked goods at bakeries around the country.
How to use it: "Whey Low's flavor and texture are very similar to
sugar's and it's easy to use," says Yasmine Sandhu, the pastry chef at Rock
Creek, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., which uses Whey Low to keep calorie
counts down. "I've substituted it into all my recipes as if it were sugar.
The only product I've had trouble with is meringue--it browns a little quicker
and doesn't set quite as well."
Health Rx: "Whey Low's creator argues that the way the sugars
interfere with each other means that you get all of the sweet but many fewer
calories than sugar," says Thomas Castonguay, Ph.D., a professor of food
science at the University of Maryland in College Park. "We're testing that
process here in the lab, and the preliminary results look promising."
What it is: This naturally occurring sugar alcohol is found in foods
such as beets, berries, and corn. Xylitol tastes almost as sweet as sugar but
is only partially absorbed by the body, so it has only about nine calories per
teaspoon and a lower glycemic index.
Where to find it: Natural-food stores and online at
How to use it: Substitute it for sugar in small amounts in tea or
coffee. If you use it for baking, it's recommended that you substitute it for
only half of the sugar called for in a recipe.
Health Rx: Xylitol prevents bacteria from causing plaque to stick to
teeth, which is why it's often used in sugar-free gum and can help prevent
tooth decay. It can also cause stomachaches, gas, and diarrhea if you have too
much of it. "Sugar alcohols aren't digested well by the body," says
Bowden. "That's what keeps xylitol from raising blood sugar, but it's also
what can give you gas."