With the new year at hand, we have to consider the healthiest natural substitutes for sugar to start things on a more nutritious platter.
Sugar is terrible, no words minced. Artificial sweeteners are nothing to write home about, too, although manufacturers may claim that they are better. They may indeed be, but nothing beats a natural sugar substitute.
Refined sugar has to be dragged too. Cleveland Clinic says table sugar is high in calories, inflammatory & has no nutritional benefit. Yet, the average American may be consuming about 12–16 spoons every day. Please ask me again how we are so ridden with chronic diseases, given that inflammation is the root cause of nearly every health condition known to man.
Kudos, sweet-toothed Americans.
4 Healthiest Natural Substitutes for Sugar
There are various types of sugar substitutes, ranging from fruits to herbs to some foods. While they all have different effects on the body, every alternative that we’ll be discussing below is naturally occurring. Plus, you gain a lot of nutrients from them & you don’t have to worry about inflammation.
Let’s see 4 of these natural alternatives to sugar below.
Raw honey is a popular superfood & one of the healthiest natural sweeteners. It’s filled with several beneficial antioxidants, enzymes, zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium vitamin B6, riboflavin & niacin.
Combined, these essential nutrients can neutralize free radicals while fostering the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut & digestive tract.
When processed, honey loses a lot of its benefits. Therefore, it is advisable to settle for raw (preferably local) honey when shopping at the local market or just buy from local beekeepers. Take note that the darker the honey, the richer it is & healthier its nutritional value.
How to Use Raw Honey
Avoid baking or cooking with raw honey. Instead, drizzle on your yogurt, breakfast cereals, over your grain toast & use for salad dressings. If molasses isn’t available, raw honey is surely an excellent alternative.
You can also use honey for your coffee, not just your tea. Here’s a thing to pay attention to: wait until your tea or coffee is tepid before you add honey to it.
Stevia originated in South America & has been their major source of food sweetness for centuries, which is why they boast very healthy blood sugar levels & body weight. It is available in packets, liquid drips, baking blends & dissolvable tablets. But here’s something shocking about stevia…
It is about 200 times sweeter than the sugar you’re used to. Yet, it has zero carbohydrates, zero calories & is free of the nasty side effects associated with artificial sweeteners.
Stevia shares some ties with sunflower, and it may leave a metallic aftertaste after using. If you are familiar with this taste after using stevia, I suggest that you buy a brand that contains higher levels of stevioside.
The American Diabetes Association recommends stevia to diabetics interested in natural sweeteners. Also, erythritol & stevia are chiefly the top 2 sugar alternatives for persons keeping to a ketogenic diet. At this point, I advise that you read labels well before buying products as some contain stevia & erythritol, and this may lead to indigestion.
How to Use Stevia
Stevia is compatible with heat, so you can use it in ways which you can’t use honey. Be careful with your ratio, though: remember that it is much sweeter than sugar.
However, stevia in baked goods may lead to a loss of bulk, so use a half cup of fresh fruit puree, two whipped egg albumens, roasted winter squash, or other bulking agents alongside. You can also make do with a tablespoon of coconut flour.
Dates are filled with copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium & vitamin B6. They are gotten from the date palm trees, easy to digest & help to metabolize fats, proteins & carbohydrates. Several studies have proven that dates lower the risk of stroke & the levels of LDL bad cholesterol in the blood.
How to Use
Dates are solid fruits, so they have to be made into a paste before being used as a sweetener. Date pastes work for a lot of recipes & provide bulk for baking, unlike stevia.
To make this paste, soak dates in hot water until they are soft. Should the water become less hot when the dates are still not soft, soak again in hot water. Ensure to keep the liquid used to soak, as it’s necessary if you want a good paste.
Add the soft dates to your processor alongside a tablespoon of the soaking water & blend until a paste is taking shape. Add as much water as needed to get a thick, rich paste.
The ideal texture for your date paste is that of peanut butter, so you know what you’re targeting. Thus can be used in all recipes.
The growing popularity of coconut flour, coconut milk & coconut water has led to a wider acceptance of coconut sugar as a natural sweetener, especially if one considers its rich mineral content & low glycemic load.
Coconut sugar is filled with polyphenols, zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, antioxidants & other phytonutrients. It is obtained by extracting the sap of coconut bloom, heating the sap & then putting it through evaporation.
How to Use
Coconut sugar can be used in all your favorite recipes, as it measures exactly like conventional sugar, although a bit more coarse in texture. To use, add the required amount for a recipe to your processor & twirl until the desired texture is obtained. Then, you’re good to go.
You can also use coconut sugar as an alternative to confectioner’s sugar.
Concluding The Healthiest Natural Substitutes for Sugar
Refined sugar & artificial sweeteners are unhealthy. When you visit the supermarket, shop for any of the healthiest natural substitutes for sugar mentioned above & use as advised. These natural sweeteners contain nutrients & compounds unavailable in traditional sugar & do not pose any harm. Other natural, healthy alternatives to sugar are Maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, balsamic glaze, banana puree & brown rice syrup.