6 healthy sweeteners: All-natural sugar substitutes
Sugar: highly addictive, horribly debilitating, unfortunately pervasive, and freaking delicious.
If Annie and I had to point to ONE culprit to our country’s expanding waistlines and rapidly deteriorating health, it would be sugar. The amount of havoc sugar and sugar substitutes have wreaked on our nation is horribly depressing.
The following is a selection of healthy substitutes:
Naturally we put raw honey first — it’s only one of our favorite things in the whole wide world!
Raw honey has so many wonderful health benefits. It’s a natural antibacterial, boosts the immune system, promotes digestive health, and is high in antioxidants.
Of course, be sure to use it in moderation — it is still very high in sugar.
Stevia is probably one of the most well-known and popular natural sweeteners. The sweet leaves have been used by humans for hundreds of years and by diabetic patients in Asia for decades.
While it is not a significant source of nutrition, the great thing about stevia is that it will not affect blood sugar levels at all, making it a great all-natural sugar alternative for diabetics. It is also calorie-free.
I’m a personal fan of this liquid stevia, which is a whole-leaf extract and does not contain any other ingredients. Powdered stevia, on the other hand, contains unnecessary fillers. Best yet, the liquid extract is super-duper sweet — just a drop will do ya!
Date sugar is essentially just dried dates pulverized into a powder. It is very sweet, which should come as no surprise if you’ve ever eaten a date before (yummy).
Since it does not melt, Date sugar cannot be used as a direct substitute for sugar. For example: you wouldn’t want to put it in your coffee. However, it is great for baking. Use just 2/3 the amount of Date sugar in place of brown or white sugar called for in your recipe. It may otherwise be too sweet!
Coconut sugar tastes like brown sugar more so than white sugar. I particularly like it for baking, since it does not affect the consistency of the final product, unlike maple syrup and molasses. However, I do not find it sweet enough for tea or coffee.
Pure maple syrup
Nope, not the kind with the bottle shaped like a jolly old woman. That’s not real maple syrup — check the ingredient list and you’ll see it’s mostly high fructose corn syrup with some artificial colorings, flavors, and sweeteners.
Pure maple syrup, on the other hand, contains only evaporated maple tree sap. It is high in manganese and zinc: 100 grams of syrup provides 22% and 3.7% of their RDVs respectively. Manganese is necessary for several enzymes that are needed for energy production and antioxidant defenses. Zinc is essential for optimal immune system function. Deficiencies of either may lower white blood cell counts and reduce immune system responses.
Molasses is thick syrup produced when the sugar cane plant is processed to make refined sugar. But unlike refined sugar, molasses carries some significant health benefits. One serving (2 tablespoons) of molasses has about 30% of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women, as well as 14% of our RDV of copper, an important trace mineral whose peptides help rebuild the skin structure that supports healthy hair. It is also high in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants.
Enjoy indulging your sweet tooth with these healthy all-natural sugar substitutes!