Oh, Sweet Tooth! Thou may yet be mine end. If you have a sweet tooth combined with a Fatty Liver, you have come to the right place. While I worked on reversing my Fatty Liver, I did a lot of research on sugar alternatives and found that it is indeed possible for people with a sweet tooth to beat this disease by giving up sugar. However, giving up sugar should not mean not being able to satisfy that sweet tooth! While the overall choices are limited, having 3 Fatty Liver Sugar alternatives is a game-changer for a Fatty Liver diet. In this post, I will introduce you to these 3 sweet substitutes for sugar!
Before we start with the recommended NAFLD Sugar Alternatives, let’s be clear about two things:
- This post is aimed at people who have Fatty Liver only. If however, you have Fatty Liver with other diseases such as diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or any other condition, please read for information but check with your doctor before using any of these alternatives.
- It is also important to note which commonly touted sugar alternatives are not good for you.
If you have Fatty Liver along with other conditions such as diabetes, please check with your doctor before taking any of these alternatives.
Fatty Liver Sugar Alternatives To Avoid:
Many still recommend brown sugar as a healthy more wholesome alternative to white sugar. And while that may be true for a normal person, if you have Fatty Liver (or any glucose-related condition), you should know better.
Truth is that the relevant differences between the two are minimal even if Brown Sugar (Raw Sugar as it is sometimes called) is slightly better – it is not enough to qualify as a good Fatty Liver Sugar Alternative.
Here is a quick comparison chart:
|Regular Sugar||Brown Sugar|
|Carbohydrates||100 g||98 g|
Clearly, this is one of the worst sugar alternatives for NAFLD as there is no material difference in terms of sugar content. In fact, some of the other alternatives in the list below are better than brown or raw sugar.
Splenda is a zero-calorie sweetener – then why is it on the avoid list? The reason lies in the fact that it is an artificial sweetener and impacts gut bacteria which can lead to additional Fat deposits in the liver. There are a few studies on this topic, here is one of them.
While more studies are needed, I was not ready to gamble my liver and bet on Splenda and I recommend you do the same.
|Carbohydrates||100 g||98 g|
Yes, jaggery is considered healthier – but for whom? As you can see the overall carb content is almost as high as sugar and while jaggery does have benefits compared to regular sugar, it must be avoided by a person suffering from Fatty Liver.
|Regular Sugar||Maple Syrup|
|Sugar/Carbohydrates||100 g||67 g|
Ok, let’s look at Maple Syrup as an alternative to Fatty Liver. As you can see in the comparison chart, it has fewer carbs than regular sugar. What I do not show here is that Maple Syrup has a lot better minerals and antioxidant profile than sugar. However, I still recommend avoiding it!
Ok – that is a bit harsh! The truth is you can likely consume a small amount, but unless you are a master at discipline – it’s tough to maintain that small amount of intake. The brain starts to think “this is better than sugar – So, I can have more and more !”. The fact that the overall amount of carbs is still high, the taste profile is not the best (in coffee, etc.) and you will still get glucose spikes when you consume it, my vote is a no.
If you plan to consume and are disciplined enough to consume less than one teaspoon a day, go for the Grade B, darker Maple Syrup which is supposed to have more anti-oxidants and a sweeter taste.
Honey deserves its own post as there are scenarios where it could be beneficial for Fatty Liver. You have to be mindful of several things though: the kind of honey, the amount of honey, and also how often. If you are not careful, consuming honey can cause more harm than good, hence for this discussion, I have kept honey in the avoid pile.
I cover the details about Honey and Fatty Liver in this post: Can I eat honey if I have Fatty Liver [#link]
With honey – the kind, the quantity and the frequency all matter. Without a good understanding and discipline, honey will be more harmful than helpful for NAFLD.
3 Recommended Fatty Liver Sugar Alternatives
Erythritol – #3. Safe Fatty Liver Sugar Substitute
Erythritol is one of the most common substitutes for regular sugar. If you are searching about what to replace sugar with, Erythritol will pretty quickly make your list. However, is Erythritol safe for NAFLD? In this post, let’s discuss this wonderful – almost as sweet as sugar – alternative for sugar.
First, you must understand that Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. As you may already know, we must avoid alcohol to help our Fatty Liver condition. However, Erythritol is not actual alcohol that can make you drunk or cause any of the issues with the liver like alcohol does. Second, while it is almost as sweet as sugar, it has zero carbs/sugar in it and hence, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels. FDA and WHO have both approved Erythritol as safe to consume.
Zero sugar content and no blood sugar spikes! – Even though you will find some carb content on the label, the carbs do not get metabolized in the bloodstream.
To get some numbers in perspective, Sugar has 4 calories per gram, while Erythritol has almost zero. The primary reason is that Erythritol gets out of your body instead of getting metabolized into the bloodstream.
So let’s answer the question we first posed – Is erythritol safe for Fatty Liver? Yes, erythritol is considered to be safe for Fatty Liver / NAFLD. Erythritol is one of the best NAFLD Sugar alternatives. However, you need to be aware of certain things while consuming Erythritol:
There is a limit to how much you can consume Erythritol. If you go over the limit, you may experience bloating, gas, nausea, or even diarrhea. The safe quantity of Erythritol is 0.45 grams per pound of body weight per day. This means that a 100 pounds person, should not eat more than 45 grams of Erythritol per day, which is equivalent to about 3 tablespoons. For a 150 pounds person, that limit increases to about 5 tablespoons. 3-5 tablespoons is a lot and you will likely not consume that much.
Stay within the limits of daily recommended consumption and you will be fine.
Foods containing Erythritol:
This is a cautionary tale. Just because something contains Erythritol in it doesn’t make that thing NAFLD friendly. Erythritol by itself is safe for fatty liver, however, if you are baking a cake then you need to be careful about other ingredients such as flour that add to the overall carb and sugar content of the item. Hence, for any “Made with Erythritol” item, read the nutrition label and make sure you are not being fooled into buying or eating something that will worsen your NAFLD.
Please understand that the items made with Erythritol may still contain ingredients that can increase the overall carb and sugar content of the item – so please make sure to read the nutrition label!
What are the best brands?
I recommend the following brands I have tried over the last few years (affiliate links):
Please tell me about your favorite Erythritol brand in comments below!
Stevia – #2. Safe Fatty Liver Sugar Substitute
Stevia Extract (a.k.a. Stevia in short) is a natural sweetener extracted from a plant native to Brazil and Paraguay. The plant is called Stevia Rebaudiana. While most synthetic sweeteners are not recommended for a Fatty Liver diet, Stevia Extract has actually been shown to improve or reverse the effects of the fatty liver (see study).
Per studies, Stevia lowered glucose levels, improved insulin sensitivities, and also improves fibrosis markers in the liver. Sweetness, combined with zero calories and zero carbs, makes Stevia one of the best alternatives for sugar for Fatty Liver disease. However, it comes with some caveats:
While Stevia is great for Fatty Liver, consumption comes with some caveats especially if you have blood pressure related conditions. Hence, as always please consult a doctor before starting on Stevia as a artificial sweetener in your NAFLD diet
Stevia Side Effects And Other Caveats
Generally, Stevia is considered safe for consumption, hence there aren’t many side effects of note. However, here are some important ones:
Most store-bought Stevia Extracts contain sugar alcohols such as Erythritol which are known to cause bloating and nausea when taken over a certain amount. So it would be prudent to pay careful attention to the ingredients label and to the Erythritol section above.
Consuming Stevia can cause blood vessels to widen which can lower the overall blood pressure. This could potentially be harmful to someone suffering from low blood pressure. However – a clear correlation between Stevia and lower blood pressure is not yet established. Hence, studies are still underway to fully understand the effects of Stevia on blood pressure and so far only positive side effects have been studied (see here). If you have any blood pressure-related condition, it would be prudent to consult with your primary physician before using Stevia extract.
Not really a side-effect, however, the aftertaste could spoil the fun of enjoying anything sweet. From my experience, everyone is different and some people report a stronger aftertaste as opposed to others. I personally always felt a little bit of aftertaste and once I discovered Monkfruit, Stevia took a back seat in terms of the sugar alternatives I used frequently. Given the benefits of Stevia – it’s worth a try. Whether you get the aftertaste or not, please read on for an even better alternative to sugar below.
Just because a food item contains Stevia, you cannot assume it is safe to consume for NAFLD. A Fatty Liver diet must avoid processed foods and fat and carbs as much as possible and a cake made of Stevia for example will still contain too much carbohydrates to be ok for consumption if you are suffering from Fatty Liver.
Finally, store-bought products containing Stevia may have other ingredients which are not fatty-liver-friendly. Since the goal is to reduce the consumption of processed foods while on the Fatty Liver diet, if you find a “Stevia” marketed item in the grocery aisle, please pay attention to the nutritional label and avoid the trap of eating something unhealthy only because it contains Stevia.
Which Stevia Brands To Buy?
I recommend these two brands of Stevia (affiliate links)that I have tried myself. Both are pure Stevia and do not contain Erythritol or any other alcohol sugars:
Do you have a favorite Stevia brand that I should try? Please leave a comment!
Monk Fruit Powder – Best Fatty Liver Sugar Substitute
Monk Fruit is a melon native to China and Thailand. It is extremely difficult to grow and maintain and almost impossible to find in other geographies. Hence, even though you will likely not be able to actually procure Monk Fruit where you are located, this article will focus on what you can actually get in a store: Monk Fruit powder.
You may also find Monk Fruit in a juice form, however, I have not tried it myself and till I try, I do not think I can comment on its potency with respect to NAFLD.
In my opinion, Monkfruit powder is the best alternative to sugar. It has zero carbs, zero sugar and is known to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is also much sweeter than sugar and does not leave any after-taste on your tongue.
Some suspect that the taste is different from that of sugar, however in my experience only the people with the most sophisticated palettes can really discern the difference.
Ideally, you try all three alternatives and see what suits you best, however if you were to choose only one, choose Monk Fruit!
If you are trying to bake yourself a treat – then monk sugar may not work as well as sugar. My better half tried baking a cake for my birthday and the results were not great – probably because monk fruit powder does not mix/melt at the same temperatures as sugar. If you have figured out a better way to bake with monk fruit sugar, I would love to hear from you!
In tea, coffee, and other beverages (Lemonade! ) – monkfruit works like a charm. In fact, after discovering monk fruit I have almost stopped using Stevia or Erythritol in my Fatty Liver diet.
Monk Fruit Powder Availability
Availability of the monk fruit powder is a challenge. Depending on your location:
- You may not be able to find Monk Fruit powder because the location hasn’t caught up to the latest trends.
- You may find Monk Fruit to be expensive and cost-prohibitive for you
- Find a different form of Monk fruit (juice) – that may not be as useful as the powder
- Find a combination of Monk Fruit and Erythritol – this is generally safe to consume
Which Monkfruit brands to buy?
I have tried and recommended these two brands of Monk Fruit (affiliate links). These include both pure monkfruit and a combination of Monk Fruit and Erythritol:
- Lakanto Golden Monk Fruit Sweetener (My favorite, but not always available easily)
- Lakanto Classic Monk Fruit Sweetener – White
- Anthony’s Erythritol and Monk Fruit Sweetener Golden
Fatty Liver is reversible and beatable. Not being able to satisfy that sweet tooth fills many with hopelessness, however, I pray this post provides you with a ray of hope. Your quality of life does not have to suffer because of a fatty liver diet. Whether you are just starting on the Fatty Liver journey or are already on it, these sugar alternatives are worth trying to give a boost to your liver. I have personally almost completely eliminated sugar intake from my life and I believe you can too!
Do you know of other sugar alternatives that you want to ask or share information about? Please leave a comment!
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