27/01/2015 08:19 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Hey Sugar, I'm A Little Confused

Have you heard of the Miracle Berry? It's not, as we first hoped, a berry that can perform mind-boggling tricks with the help of its glamorous assistant, Stalk. But kinda close. The fruit contains miraculin, which has the power to twizzle your tastebuds to such an extent that any food – however salty, bitter or bland – will taste sweet like chocolate, girl.


Such is our wanton obsession with sweet stuff, and yet women in their thousands have committed to no-sugar lifestyles over the past year, after more and more articles surfaced damning the health risks of the white stuff.

MORE: Is the no sugar diet ruining our relationship with food?

Cue a whole load of 'healthy' sweeteners being pushed in our gobs faces by lifestyle gurus, brands and health food shops – but we're still not sure if agave syrup is a better option or if honey is the bees knees. We asked two experts (proper nutritionists, not just people who tweet nice recipes) to help clear the fog from some of the most popular sweeteners doing the rounds...

Agave nectar
Often called agave syrup, due to its gloopy texture we're guessing, this is a favourite among the fashionable wellness bods that are cropping up all over Instagram. "The nectar comes from the agave plant in southern Mexico, which looks similar to the cactus and yucca," explains nutritional therapist and author of Food Awakening, Julie Silver. "Although it does contain more minerals than refined sugar, it's still super high in fructose – around 8023FFEB00&videoControlDisplayColor= sucrose, which is kinder on the liver than fructose. It also naturally contains nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and calcium, so wins over granulated in that sense, though gram for gram the quantities are pretty low, so don't go thinking it's a superfood!"

Stevia leaves and powder

Given that it's the sweetener Coca Cola chose to include in their Life range, fronted by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and calorie-free, surely Stevia (pictured above) is a winner? "This South American plant produces leaves that are naturally extremely sweet, courtesy of compounds called stevioside and rebaudioside that amazingly don't have any calories or carbs," says Alice. That's why it's such a hit for diabetics and calorie-counters, but it isn't totally saintly. "The main drawback is that Stevia doesn't quell sugar cravings so you can become addicted to its sweet flavour. Plus, low-calorie sweeteners often slow our metabolism because they don't provide the body with the calories it expects – no research has been done into Stevia's effects yet, so we don't know one way or another."

MORE: How to make a sugar-free chocolate cake

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