Even though most people know sugar is bad for health, it’s hard to let it go. Regular sugar makes your meals worth it but contributes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Yet, over time, foods with added sugar became an indispensable part of human lives. The good news is there are natural sweetener substitutes for refined sugar. These aren’t just sweet but safer for health compared to artificial sweeteners. Take a look at the healthiest sugar substitutes out there!
Raw honey is an excellent natural sweetener, plus a true superfood. It is loaded with antioxidants, enzymes, zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and niacin.
These nutrients neutralize free radicals in your body and promote healthy bacteria. For example, a single banana impacts your glycemic load more than one tablespoon of honey. However, once you pasteurize honey, many benefits are lost. So, seek local raw honey directly from beekeepers or farmer markets.
Bonus: Dark-colored honey has more nutrients, a richer flavor, and several health benefits than regular sugar.
How To Use It?
Remember that baking or cooking with raw honey is not suitable for your health. Instead, you can drizzle it over your grain toast (sprouted), breakfast cereals, salad dressings, and yogurt. Also, if you’re not willing to eat molasses, raw honey is a great substitute.Most people only use honey in tea. However, one can also use these natural sugars in coffee. Note that if you like having honey in coffee or tea, wait until it becomes tepid. Then, add honey.
For hundreds of years, Stevia has been native to South America. It supports healthy blood sugar levels and encourages weight loss. This zero-calorie sweetener is around 200 times sweeter than sugar. Reason? The element ‘stevioside’ is found in the leaves of the stevia plant. Stevia is available in packets, liquid drops, baking blends, and dissolvable tablets. You will find no nasty artificial sweeteners’ side effects and zero carbs. Moreover, some people consider it similar to sunflower as it gives a metallic aftertaste. Try a brand higher in stevioside to reduce this experience.
As per the ADA or American Diabetes Association, Stevia is included in added sugar substitutes. Erythritol and Stevia do not raise blood sugar levels. Those following a ketogenic diet use this natural sweetener as well.However, ensure to read labels before buying Stevia. Some products containing both erythritol and Stevia might trigger indigestion.
How To Use It?
Stevia is stable under heat, unlike raw honey. So, you can add it even while cooking or baking. However, note that Stevia is 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. So, add in small amounts. When you use Stevia in baked goods, some bulk is lost. To make up for it, use a bulking agent. Some include yogurt, fresh fruit puree, two whipped egg whites, and roasted winter squash. Use ½ to ⅓ cup of them. You may even add 1-2 tbsp of coconut flour.
Maple syrup is available in grades A, B. It is native to North America. One needs to follow four steps to process maple syrup. These are time-consuming. Firstly, you need to drill a tree hole. Next, hang a bucket to catch the sap. Finally, boil to evaporate water and filter the sediments. Maple syrup is among the healthiest sugar alternatives. That’s because it contains calcium, zinc, potassium, and manganese apart from sweetness. With the richness of antioxidants, maple syrup reduces oxidative damage and neutralizes free radicals.
The grade B syrups are darker. Hence, they have more health benefits, including antioxidants, compared to light Maple syrup. So, you can select the darker one.
How To Use It?
One can use maple syrup in any cooking application since it’s heat-stable. Add it to glazes, marinades, or sauces. You may even use this natural sweetener for baking. Whether you put maple syrup in your morning tea, coffee, or sweeten granola, it never disturbs your insulin levels. For making cakes or cookies glaze, heat this syrup slightly and add coconut sugar. Stir until it turns smooth, and let the mix cool. Finally, drizzle.
You must have heard of the health benefits of coconut milk, flour, water, and fresh fruit. However, there’s more. Many people are now using coconut sugar as a natural sweetener as it has rich mineral content and a low glycemic index. Coconut sugar is readily available and versatile, loaded with iron, polyphenols, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, antioxidants. First, it is the extracted sap from heated coconut blooms. Next, the sap is evaporated to obtain sugar.
Dried dates sugar and coconut-made sugar are used in place of each other. It’s because they both do not raise blood sugar levels, have similar flavors, and bake deliciously.
How To Use It?
In your favorite recipes, use coconut sugar instead of regular sweeteners. Although it’s a bit coarser than refined sugar, the health benefits outshine. Add coconut sugar to be added to your recipe in the food processor. Grind until you get the required texture.
Confectioneries without artificial sweeteners or regular sugar can be easily prepared using coconut sugar. For every tbsp, add one tbsp of arrowroot powder. Blend until it becomes smooth in a high-powered food processor or clean coffee grinder.
There are several reasons agave nectar has grown popular. It is a natural sweetener sold by Equals, Splendas, and Sweet’N Lows. Agave nectar is believed to be more nutritious and flavorful than regular sugar. It tastes similar to honey and has a longer shelf life. However, the fructose content is even higher than high-fructose corn syrup. So, those facing weight gain or diabetes should not consume it.
If you’re looking for a low-calorie sweetener, here’s one. Monk fruit extract has compounds that are 300-400 times sweeter than sugar. As a result, it never affects your insulin levels and is a fantastic low-carb substitute. Here’s how to use it. You can make all sorts of recipes using monk fruit extract. From cookies to cheesecakes, from healthy mocktails to smoothies, prepare any dish, almost calorie-free!
Natural sugars have long-term benefits for human health. So whether it’s coconut sugar or agave nectar, pick yours from the sweeteners mentioned above. Remember to add them in smaller amounts as most are several times sweeter than regular sugars. So are you all set to delight your sweet tooth in a health-friendly way?