5 All Natural Sugar Substitutes
It’s no secret that refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup can be very detrimental to one’s health.
This is why so many people are now opting to eliminate refined sugars from their diet. Once you have your sugar addiction under control however, you might want to include some natural sugars back into your diet.
These sugars are naturally occurring and are much easier for the body to process and digest, plus they contain additional health benefits.
5 All Natural Sugar Substitutes
1. Raw Honey
Raw honey is an incredibly healthy natural sweetener. What many people do not realize about honey is that it is not just a sweetener, but it is also a food. While honey is made mostly of sugar it also contains amino acids, electrolytes, antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds – all of which help to support health.
Some health benefits of honey include:
- may help to prevent cancer
- antibacterial and antifungal
- increases athletic performance
- aids in cough and throat irritation
- heals burns and wounds
It is important to note that the type of honey you buy is very important. Most honey found on market shelves is highly processed and stripped of most of its nutrients. Buy from a local farmer or health food store to ensure you are purchasing raw honey that still contains nutrients.
Stevia is an all-natural sweetener that comes from the leaf of a plant. A great no-calorie sweetener that works as an excellent sugar substitute for those with diabetes or blood sugar issues, stevia generally comes in powdered or extract forms so that you can easily add it to your coffee or tea and can even bake with it. Since stevia is a no-calorie sweetener it is also a great substitute for those who are looking to lose weight. Instead of using regular sugar in recipes such as muffins or cookies, try swapping some out for powdered stevia to save on calories and sugar, however stevia should not be used as a straight 1-for-1 swap of sugar. Stevia is a concentrated sweetener which means you need much less to equate to the same amount of sweetness you would get from regular white sugar.
Though stevia is a natural sweetener, there are still many companies out there that capitalize on the stevia name by selling a stevia product that contains additives and artificial chemicals. These brands should be avoided as many are made with GMO ingredients which can be dangerous to your health.
Most stevia brands now also offer flavored stevia, such as chocolate, vanilla, raspberry and even pumpkin spice.
Stevia may be an all-natural zero-calorie sweetener, however it should still be used in moderation as you would with any other sugar.
Dates are not actually sugar, but a food that contains sugar. Whereas white sugar contains only sugar, dates are actually a sweet food that is rich in fiber and potassium as well as vitamins and minerals. These additional nutrients help to slow the absorption of sugar and regulate sugar within the body.
Dates are also a heart-healthy food. This is because dates are rich in magnesium, a mineral that has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation in the walls of arteries. Magnesium has also been shown to lower blood pressure. Due to magnesium’s ability to reduce inflammation, dates can also help to reduce the risk other inflammation-related diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease and more.
Dates are commonly used as an all-natural sweetener in raw and vegan recipes. When sat in warm water overnight, dates soften and can then be blended into a smooth paste, which is often used as honey in recipes. Dates can also be added whole to smoothies and other blended recipes for added sweetness.
4. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is a simple one to swap with regular sugar. Though its taste resembles more of a brown sugar than a white sugar, coconut sugar is an unrefined, vegan and non-GMO sugar alternative. Taken naturally from the sap of the coconut palm, coconut sugar is what remains when all of the water is removed from the coconut sap.
Unlike white sugar which has a glycemic index of around 65, coconut sugar only has a glycemic index of 35, which is considerably lower. This low glycemic index means that coconut sugar will not spike blood sugar levels or insulin levels like white sugar will. One explanation for this lower glycemic index could be thanks in part to the fiber inulin, which coconut sugar contains. Inulin may help to slow glucose absorption, which would explain why coconut sugar has such a lower glycemic index than white sugar.
Though coconut sugar shouldn’t be used as a nutritional supplement, it does contain some vitamins and minerals.
Coconut sugar contains trace amounts of:
- vitamin C
Coconut sugar also contains small amounts of polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanin, powerful antioxidants that help ward off free radicals in the body.
5. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a terrific all-natural sweetener, but we aren’t referring to the highly processed and chemical-filled pancake maple syrup. Pure maple syrup, usually grade B-rated, contains only 100% pure maple syrup. Similar to raw honey, pure maple syrup contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that traditional white sugar does not.
In fact, pure maple syrup contains roughly 24 different antioxidants according to the medical journal Pharmaceutical Biology. These antioxidants come in the form of phenolic compounds and are helpful in fighting free radicals in the body, which can cause inflammation related diseases.
White sugar offers no nutritional benefits to the diet and is extremely detrimental when over-consumed. Though it might be hard to do at first, eliminating white sugar from your diet is one of the best things that you can do for your body. Swap out white sugar for one of the above five all-natural substitutes and improve your health. Having foods and drinks which are natural sources of sugar is healthier too.