By Michael Gerber, MD, HMD Sweets are a part of life. When you have a sweet craving it is advisable to choose the least toxic variety of the many products available. Although not inexpensive the following alternatives offer health benefits and less health detriments than common table sugar (sucrose) and, heaven forbid, high fructose corn syrup (GMO corn soaked in glyphosate, Roundup herbicide, yum). XYLITOL Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables. Dental and medical professionals use xylitol worldwide as it has been clinically proven to fight cavities and reduce plaque. Xylitol tastes like sugar with one third fewer calories. It is recommended for people with diabetes and hypoglycemia because it has a low glycemic index of 7, meaning it turns into glucose in the blood very slowly. Found in xylitol toothpaste it is also used as a nasal spray in saline, salt water, for the neti pot or nasal irrigation to inhibit the adherence of bacteria and allergens to the nasal and sinus linings thereby helping allergy and chronic sinusitis sufferers. One little downside to xylitol is that it can be flatus (gas) producing. STEVIA The best non caloric sweetener by far is Stevia. It is truly natural and comes from a Southern Hemispheric herb, Stevia rebaudiana, known locally as sweet leaf or sugar leaf. Extracts of the herb have been used as a sweetener for centuries without any documented ill effects. Stevia leaves are 30 times as sweet as sugar itself and the purified extracts are 200 times as sweet. Stevia taste and after taste vary so try several varieties. COCONUT SUGAR This gourmet product from the coconut palm has a delightful caramel flavor and is full of essential minerals, vitamins and amino acids. It is also very environmentally friendly and expensive. Michael Gerber, MD, HMD is a monthly columnist for the Townsend Letter and Healthy Beginnings Magazine.