Like with any food, when choosing a sugar substitute, the closest you get to nature, the healthier it gets. Refined sugar has been associated with several health concerns, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. The problem is that most people consume too much-added sugar in the foods they eat without even realizing it. Sugar has a tendency to leave you craving for more, making it tough to avoid altogether. The good news is that there are plenty of sugar alternatives and sweeteners that you could try to reduce the amount of table sugar in your diet.
Palmyra Blossom Nectar
Conveniently termed as “Sugar of Life”, Palmyra Blossom Nectar comes in its pure form from unrefined nectar of the Palmyra tree (Borassus flabellifer). It’s the top-ranking substitute for sugar and doesn’t raise blood sugar.
This pure sugar replacement comes packed with a high level of B-complex vitamins, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Dates are sweet fruits harvested from the date palm tree, found in many tropical regions of the world. They are very nutritious and are available in different varieties and sizes. They are chewy and have a sweet flavor.
Date sugar is made from dehydrated ground dates. The sugar is highly rich in antioxidants and also contains high levels of potassium. Date sugar is less processed than conventional sugar, making it the best alternative to table sugar. However, it’s still high in fructose content, calling for moderation when using it.
Molasses is the by-product created from the sugar-cane refining process and happens to be healthier than the final product – white sugar. Blackstrap molasses contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and potassium, which are often recommended for those suffering from low blood iron levels.
However, it’s advisable to use it sparingly, given the high fructose content.
Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant, which mostly grows in warm climates. It’s one of the healthiest sugar alternatives since it doesn’t raise blood sugar because it contains zero calories.
Stevia can be up to 350 times sweeter than sugar but tastes slightly different. Stevioside is the sweet compound responsible for all that sweetness in stevia and is said to have several potential health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin levels.
So far, stevia has no known side effects and is 100 percent natural, making it the best healthy substitute for refined sugar. You can use ground dried stevia leaves or use the processed powder or syrup to sweeten your tea or coffee.
Lo Han Go (Monk Fruit)
Lo Han or monk fruit has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener in China to treat obesity and diabetes. It has zero calories and adds antioxidants to the body. Monk fruit is about 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, meaning you need to use a lot less to meet your sweetness needs. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about a spike in blood sugar or pumping up on excess calories, thanks to its low (zero) glycemic index.
When buying Lo Han Go, be sure to check the labels and avoid those that contain blends of other ingredients like corn sugar.
Organic Coconut Sugar
We all love the sweet aroma of coconut and the delicious taste in rice or bean dishes. But did you know coconut provides one of the healthiest sugar substitutes? Coconut sugar comes from the nectar within the coconut blossoms, which then undergoes a natural processing technique where the water evaporates from the sap, letting the nectar crystalize.
Coconut sugar contains a fructose content of 39 percent, which, unfortunately, is on the higher side. For this reason, you should use it sparingly. On the good side, coconut sugar contains nutrients like zinc, iron, and some antioxidants.
Most of you are familiar with honey since it’s widely available. It’s one of the oldest sugar alternatives but should also be consumed sparingly due to its high fructose content. However, there are several types of honey, depending on where it’s cultivated, and each has unique nutritional value.
So, be sure to inquire about the origin of the honey and check labels before buying. Apart from being an antibiotic, honey has several applications, both internal and external, and can also be used as a cleansing substance. Additionally, its antioxidant properties have been shown to help treat cold.
Maple syrup is harvested from maple trees in late winter (mostly produced in North America) and is one of the most common sugar alternatives used in many households and cafes. It’s made popular by the famous maple syrup pancakes you normally see in photos.
If taken in its pure form, it’s one of the most natural and unprocessed types of sugar. The only processing it goes through is boiling the maple tree sap. Maple syrup is highly versatile and can replace sugar in any recipe but with the added bonus of antioxidants.
Keep in mind that it contains high caloric content and should therefore be used in moderation. It’s advisable to stick to the natural maple syrup and avoid flavored kinds, which most likely don’t contain any maple. All you could be getting is maple flavoring and loads of sugar that can be detrimental to your health.
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