Refined sugars like the typical white sugar in kitchens and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) practically dominate the sweet intake in the diet for many people, be it in the form of sweetened beverages, sweet snacks, or cereals, desserts, etc. And it does not take one to have a sweet tooth to agree that their sweetness is, in fact, an absolute treat for the tastebuds, but can you also say the same when it comes to their impact on your health? Even if calories or weight gain linked with high consumption of added sugar is not an issue, there are still plenty of other medical conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, fatty liver disease, etc., to worry about. But that does not mean you have to deprive yourself of the pleasure of sweetened treats. Below are some sugar substitutes to consider that are both tasty and healthy and will satisfy all your daily sugar cravings.
If you don’t already know what maple syrup is, it is a thick and sugary liquid prepared by cooking the sap of maple trees. Not only is maple syrup delicious, but all-natural and pure maple syrup is also beneficial for your health. In addition to small amounts of minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, and manganese, maple syrup also boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to its richness in phenolic compounds like coumarins and lignans. But despite how it sounds, maple syrup is still relatively high in sugar and can easily replace sugar in almost everything. Other noteworthy points about maple syrup are that it’s good for digestion, helps manage blood sugar, can be consumed by vegans and non-vegans alike, and does not break its nutritional value during baking.
If you’ve tried one, you must already know about the characteristic sweetness and chewy flavor offered by these dried fruits known as dates. There are many reasons why dates are a much better option than most sweeteners in the market, including all the nutrition it boasts. From fiber to potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, manganese, polyphenol antioxidants, and carotenoid, dates are not only ideal for regular consumers but have studies backing their safe use for those with cholesterol and diabetes as well. Replace sugar with dates in recipes for cookies, cakes, etc., or blend them in your smoothies for sweetness. You can also just make a thick paste of dates and use it for other purposes.
Raw honey is perhaps the most widely used and loved sugar substitute for all health enthusiasts. This golden liquid is thick in texture and has abundant plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties besides a hint of minerals and vitamins. However, since the bees produce honey, its value, plant compounds, health benefits, etc., depend on various factors like the kind of bee that produced it and the flower the bee used for the purpose. Though honey is a better alternative to refined sugar, it is still high in sugar and calories, with not enough studies backing its benefits. Therefore, it is best to consume it in moderation.
Even if you are not a big fan of coconut or its flavor, coconut sugar is something you can try, given it has a dark and sweet taste, much like brown sugar. The sap of the coconut palm is where the coconut sugar is extracted from, which is then boiled to form granules.
Though sweet, coconut sugar has a low glycemic index (GI index) due to a fiber called inulin which slows glucose absorption. Coconut sugar is also high in potassium and antioxidants besides zinc, iron, and calcium, making it a healthy choice.
Other Sugar Substitutes To Consider
- Monk fruit sweetener
- Sugar alcohols
- Fruit purees
- Yacon syrup
It is not easy to avoid something that tastes as good as sugar, especially if you have a sweet tooth. But the good news is you do not have to if you just manage it right. Growing consumers’ awareness of the ill effects of sugars and artificial sweeteners and changing consumer preference for healthy alternatives has created a demand and supply chain of sweet but healthy products. As a result, it presents a greater choice in the market today, making the switch easier for a number of people. So, the next time you go to the supermarket, you just have to pick right!