According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, all sweets should be consumed in moderation due to their over-stimulating effect on the spleen organ within the Earth Element. The powerful flavor of “sweet” can easily create an imbalance in the Five Flavors (bitter,sweet, pungent, salty, sour) and their associated Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood). This can occur regardless of the type of sweetener. In other words, whether the sweetener is synthetic, natural, organic, low calorie, etc. seems to make little difference from the standpoint of the disruption that it creates in the Five Flavors and the Five Elements.
From the perspective of Western Medicine, sweets should also be consumed in moderation because of their powerful stimulating effect on the pancreas which leads to the release of insulin. Excessive sugar consumption causes a cascade of undesirable events which can include high blood sugar, hyper-insulinemia, dysglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. The sweeteners that have the least effect on insulin and blood sugar levels are Stevia, Vegetable Glycerol and Licorice Root. (Note: If you are diabetic it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels even if you are consuming healthier sweeteners.)
Remember too, that all sweets (with the exception of Stevia) feed undesirable organisms in the gut micro-flora, creating inflammation and subsequent increased permeability within the gastrointestinal lining. This can cause pain, gas, bloating, and yeast (candida) overgrowth. The consumption of sweets can also cause increased inflammation and permeability of the Blood Brain Barrier. This increased Blood Brain Barrier permeability causes stress and inflammation in the brain and is associated with symptoms of brain fog, fatigue, depression and mood swings.
Not surprisingly, the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is dominated by the flavors of sweet and salty. This often creates vague food cravings in search of the other three missing flavors. Umeboshi Plum paste, which contains all five flavors, is an ancient Oriental folk remedy used to balance the Five Flavors and to satisfy such cravings. A small amount of Umeboshi Plum paste placed on the tongue before or after meals does the job nicely.
Stevia (derived from a South American plant)
Vegetable glycerin (Glycerol)
Maple syrup (pure)
Sucanat (raw cane sugar)
Sugar alcohols (e.g. erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol) (may cause loose stool)
Note: Avoid sugars which are made from foods that you have a known allergy to.
Sweeteners to avoid:
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Refined sugars (usually from beets or sugar cane)
Aspartame (a.k.a NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel) Neotame (Aspartame derivative)
Acesulfame-K (a.k.a Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One) Saccharin