Best Healthy Sugar Alternatives

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Here’s a list of some of my favorite healthy sweeteners.  Mostly I am using only dates and a bit of stevia. , Coconut sugar, molasses, maple syrup and honey are all high sugar, just a healthier version, but sugar nonetheless, so don’t be blinded by the “goodness”.  and keep their use to a minimum.  Balance is always the key.

Lucuma and Erythritol you wont find on your supermarket shelves . They are both excellent sugar subtitutes, but a bit expensive. I included them because they are worth knowing about.

Experiment with substituting any sugars including coconut, molasses, agave, maple syrup or honey, with dates, bananas, or/and stevia leaf.. Experiment with lucuma and erythritol for smaller amounts of sweetening. Have fun creating !!

Healthy Sweeteners
•    Dates
•    Lucuma fruit
•    Fresh or frozen banana

Calorie-Free Natural Sweeteners
•    Green stevia leaf
•    Stevia leaf extract
•    Erythritol

Mineral-Rich Sugar Options

  • Coconut  sugar
  •  Molasses
  •  Maple syrup
  •   Honey

 

Dates – Are my #1 hands down favourite sugar substitute. You can pour boiling water over them and let them soak and soften then drain. This works well if you’re mixing them into a nut mix that can handle some moisture, like raw cheesecake filling with soaked cashews. I use them as my main sugar alternative.

Dates are a good source of various vitamins and minerals. Its a good source of energy, sugar and fiber. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc are found in dates.  It also contains vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.

Dates have high levels of soluble fibre,  which can not only relieve symptoms of constipation. it means the sugars are processed in a slower, less sugar “spiking ” kind of way.

Lucuma – is an exotic fruit found in Peru. When made into a powder provides a creamy citrus taste to add flavour and nutrition to your food. Lucuma Powder is rich in beta-carotene which is great for boosting immunity.
It is rich in antioxidants when help to boost vitality (Cacao powder is another great source of anti-oxidants).
Lucuma may help to reduce the symptoms of fatigue as it contains iron which is required for energy.
It also contains the minerals calcium and phosphorus which both support bone health.
Finally it also is an excellent source of fibre so can help people with digestive issues.

Stevia – A herb native to South America, stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used as a sweetener for centuries in South America, and in Japan, it makes up 41 per cent of the sweetener market. Stevia has no calories and no glycemic impact making it suitable for diabetics as well as weight watchers and eco warriors.  It can be grown at home, although turning it from herb into a granular product isn’t an easy DIY project.

Green stevia leaf is just ground up dried stevia leaves with no processing. I haven’t  used stevia in it’s natural form like this, but am now keen to grow some and experiment.. doesn’t sound hard to grow.. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Stevia leaf extract – is processed to contain just the “sweet” part of the plant.. Personally I like this in powder form, as I found I didn’t like the after taste of the liquid stevia. Maybe I just used too much.. I find the powder easier to use and measure quantity.

Erythritol –  is usually made from plant sugars. Sugar is mixed with water and then fermented with a natural culture into erythritol. It is then filtered, allowed to crystallize, and then dried. The finished product is white granules or powder that resembles sugar.

It has almost no calories. In the United States, erythritol is labeled as having 0.2 calories per gram, which is 95 percent fewer calories than sugar. In Japan, erythritol is labeled as having zero calories. Erythritol has not been found to affect blood sugar or insulin levels and has a zero glycemic index. Erthyritol has a sweet taste. Some say it tastes more like sugar than other natural sweeteners such as stevia (which can be bitter) while others dislike the taste.

In small amounts, erythritol is not supposed to cause digestive upset and diarrhea that other sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol are known to cause, because erythritol is a smaller molecule and 90 percent of erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted for the most part unchanged in urine. This quality makes erythritol unique among the sugar alcohols. Many people, however, report side effects such as diarrhea, stomach upset, and headache after consuming normal amounts of erythritol in food or beverages.

Erythritol isn’t metabolized by oral bacteria, which means that it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay. Erythritol was approved for use as a sugar substitute in Japan in 1990. In the United States, it is classified as being Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) since 1997. It was approved in Australia and New Zealand in 1999.

Coconut Sugar – 
Coconuts are all the rage at the moment and the craze for coconut water has dovetailed with a growth in demand for coconut sugar. Sap from the coconut palm is heated to evaporate its water content and reduce it to usable granules. Coconut sugar is nutritious and has a low score on the glycemic index, which means you don’t get a buzz followed by a crash. It tastes similar to brown sugar but is slightly richer. You can substitute coconut sugar for traditional sugar pretty much wherever you use the latter. Once tapped for sap, the trees can go on producing for 20 years and produce more sugar per hectare than sugar cane. and benefit the local soil.

Molasses
 – is a by-product of the sugar production process. Although producing sugar from sugar cane has a negative environmental impact, not using all the products only compounds it. Because of the way traditional tabletop sugar is produced (heating the top layer which forms the crystals you have in your bowl), many of the nutritional benefits are left in the molasses. Blackstrap molasses is perhaps the most beneficial and is a good source of iron and calcium. It’s quite thick and viscous and is best used in baking. It is also sweeter than sugar and so you’ll need less.
 Only use organic molasses as it is a concentrate and you don’t want a concentrate of chemicals from normal sugar cane production.

Honey
 – Sweeter than sugar, get honey that’s been organically and locally produced to reap the full benefits. Packed with vitamins, honey also has antimicrobial properties. It does have more calories than normal sugar but because it’s sweeter you use less of it. Some honey producers mix their honey with sugar and you wont find it listed as an ingredient on the label, hence buy local and organic. Get to know and support your local bee keepers. Like maple syrup, honey is high in natural sugar, so keep it’s use to a minimum. I only use honey when I’ve got a cold or sore throat, then I use Manuka or bush honey for it’s antibiotic goodness, mixed into hot lemon and water.. or even better, crush a clove of garlic and mix into a teaspoon of honey and eat.

Maple Syrup
 – Maple syrup contains a small amount of minerals, especially manganese and zinc. However, it is also very high in sugar (about 67%). There are a number of antioxidant substances found in maple syrup, but the amount is still low compared to the large amount of sugar.

Already a common bottle in many people’s cupboards, maple syrup can be used in place of sugar in most cakes but because it’s liquid you’ll need to reduce other liquids by about a quarter. Boasting a moreishly distinctive taste, the richer the cake the greater the benefits of using maple syrup.

 

 

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