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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweeteners During Pregnancy

Fortunately, I have not had a big sweet tooth during my pregnancy. I haven't even craved chocolate! Still, I make the occasional baked good and use a sweetener every morning in my smoothie. Here is some info on your options which every pregnancy person must consider. (There is also a chapter on this subject in Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven)

A full vegan will already be avoiding this. Pregnancy adds additional considerations because honey is a raw product and could contain bacteria harmful to a fetus. (Same thing with cheese and some other foods which need to be highly pasteurized for safety). 

This had been my go-to sweetener for my morning smoothie but ALAS, must be avoided during pregnancy. Agave is made from the same cactus from which we get tequila and could cause contractions* so it's a big no-no. However, once I am to term and it is safe for me to go into labor I might have some. At the moment, I could go for some vegan ice cream but every brand I've found uses agave as a sweetener. Drat!
*A lot of these claims I have read might not be supported by a lot of research. More often than not, these ingredients have just not been tested enough to say their effect on pregnancies one way or the other. For me, if there is any risk or chance of risk, I avoid it. 

Stevia is an intense sweetener that comes in a few forms. You can buy it as leaves or processed in a powder or liquid. Only a few drops provide a lot of sweetness! I tried this when I found out I am pregnant and nixed the agave, but can find no research on its effect on pregnancy, so I have discontinued use. I might come back to it when I am not pregnant. 

Evaporated Cane Juice
I buy this in bulk. It has a slightly brown color because it isn't whitened. 

Maple Syrup 
Unfortunately, this is an expensive sweetener. Be careful if buying this from the store that it is 100% maple syrup, NOT corn syrup!

Santa Cruz 
Here is what I use in smoothies now in place of a sweetener and cacao.  This stuff in amazing! It's like vegan organic Hershey's syrup and I find it in the big box grocery store. The sweetener is invert sugar and there are only four ingredients (sweet!) Using this makes my smoothie seem like a milkshake and makes me happy when I can't have other summer frozen treats!

Other Safe, Yummy Bets:

  • Sweeteners labeled "low glycemic index" are a plus!
  • Sugar from veggies: peas, brown rice, beets
  • I have not tried this, but folks use fruit sugar by reducing into a syrup
  • You can find vegan powdered/confectioner's sugar, brown sugar, and so on
  • Blackstrap Molasses- added bonus of iron! 


  • High Fructose Corn Syrup- you know better!
  • Bleached or chlorinated granulated white sugar (probably also processed with bone char)
  • Anything that does not come from a plant. If it was made in a factory from manufactured chemicals, it is bad news. Truvia, splenda, sweet n low, aspartame, and so on. Highly processed and possibly carcinogenic. Give your baby the good stuff!
Another note on sugar:
Don't overdo it. Insulin spikes are no good for baby and pregnant women are susceptible to gestational diabetes which is extremely dangerous for mama and baby. Limit yourself and try to get your sweet fix from fruit, juice, juice popsickles!

Add your own sweeteners in the comments!

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