Getting rid of highly processed sweeteners from your diet like white sugar and high fructose corn syrup is one of the best things that you can do which will also improve your overall health and physique, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any sweet stuff on the menu, on the contrary. What we have here is 5 brilliant natural sugar substitutes.
These days there are a huge range of natural alternatives stacking up our shelves, each one provides a good alternative to sweetening your morning oatmeal, coffee or post-gym shake in a much less processed and more tasty way.
This does not mean that just because they are a natural sweetener you should have an overabundance of them, especially if you have type-2 diabetes or prediabetes, these are all great alternatives to what is put into fizzy drinks, many cereals and flavored yogurts.
A fairly sweet liquid that can be boiled down into a syrupy sweetener, a recent study found that this natural sweetener has a range of ingredients in it that are good for you and contain many antioxidants including ones unique to this.
Canadian researchers have also found that darker and stronger tasting Grade B syrup contains greater antioxidant firepower and more minerals like calcium than lighter shades of syrup labeled as Grade A.
So be sure to use it to sweeten pancakes or oatmeal, it is pricey however as it takes 40 liters of maple sap to produce just 1 liter of maple syrup.
Beware of imitation syrups that contain virtually no maple sap at all and are actually high in corn syrup and some mystery flavoring.
Coconut Palm Sugar
In recent years coconut palm sugar has gained more prominence in many health food shops, made from the sap of coconut palm flowers which is boiled into a thick syrup, dried and then ground to produce a granulated sugar with a flavor similar to caramel.
Although there is still a slight lack of research, it is believed that coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than white or brown sugar. This means it will lead to much less spikes in blood sugar, keeping energy levels steady and discouraging body fat storage.
As with most natural sugars, coconut sugar is a good source of iron, magnesium and B Vitamins, it is also one of the most sustainable available with palms producing 50-75% more sugar than normal sugar cane does.
You can use coconut sugar as a straight replacement for normal sugar in anything.
Produced from flower nectar by worker bees, with more than 300 varieties in the USA alone, ranging from light and floral to dark and assertive depending on the bees nectar source. Research shows that honey, particularly the dark kind, unpasteurized varieties such as buckwheat contain health boosting antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that roam our bodies cell-damaging parts that they can clean up, cell damage is thought to be one factor in delayed recovery from intense workouts.
Researchers have found that honey induces less of a sugar spike than table sugar, also it has been found that athletes that consume honey during endurance exercise experienced improved performance, it is most likely that the easily digested sugar in honey helps fuel muscles, it also possesses strong anti-bacterial properties.
Beware though that some heat-treated honey are lower in antioxidant and antibacterial qualities so with this in mind it is best to seek out raw honey produced from a local bee keeper.
Monk Fruit Extract
An up and coming sweetener, gleaned from vine-ripened sweet melon grown in China and South East Asia. Often marketed as zero-calorie, however each teaspoon does contain two calories, by comparison, one tea spoon of sugar has 15 calories, so this just shows that monk fruit can be a good way to cut sugar calories.
In granulated form, monk fruit is 200-300 times sweeter than it’s sugar cane counterpart.
A sweetener and whole food all in one, the sweetener is made by grinding dates into a fine powder. They contain many useful nutrients like vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and fiber.
Date sugar can be used as a straight swap for normal sugar but bear in mind it does not dissolve in other liquids very well.
On a final note, despite there many benefits over normal sugar, they will never quite match up to proper fruit and veg which provide much more natural sources of antioxidants and nutrients. These natural sugar substitutes should still be taken in moderation as they are still a form of sugar, so still worth keeping an eye on your waistline.