8 All-Natural Alternatives To Sugar
Have you resolved to reduce your sugar intake? Have you decided to minimize the use of sugar in your recipes? Well, we believe it could very well be one of the best decisions you’ll make for your health.
Do you know that the typical American consumes around 128 pounds of added sugars every year, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture? That’s more than my weight, to tell you the truth. And while sugar can make food delicious, it can also have negative effects on our bodies.
For starters, people who get 10 to 25% of their calories from sugar are nearly three times more likely to die of heart ailments compared to those who get 10 percent of their calories from sugar.
Too much sugar can also lead to diabetes, weight gain and even cancer. This Healthline.com article explores the other dangers of consuming too much sugar.
But as we’ve said, sugar can make our foods delicious. It’s what makes sweet treats like cakes a hit in every household. It can also help cookies get a crisp texture during the baking process. And most people I know can’t enjoy beverages like a cup of coffee without adding sugar.
Now you might wonder—what can you use instead of sugar? Continue reading below as I list down the top eight alternatives to sugar.
This could be the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “sugar alternatives.” It is a natural sweetener that is also used in fighting infections and healing wounds. It also contains nutrients, antioxidants and antibacterial properties albeit in small amounts.
There are plenty of studies backing up claims about the health benefits of honey. One research conducted by experts from the University of Memphis showed that athletes who consumed honey had more stable blood sugar and insulin levels.
There’s also a research conducted by scientists from the University of California, Davis that links daily consumption of honey to high antioxidants levels.
As a sugar substitute, honey can add a touch of sweetness to foods like yogurt, nut butter, homemade dressings or marinades. We suggest getting raw and USDA-certified organic honey as you can be assured of the quality.
You can simply replace every tablespoon of sugar with a teaspoon of this food called the nectar of gods. We typically use honey for recipes such as Cocoa Hazelnut Energy Bites and Peanut Butter Bites.
Agave nectar originated from South America, with the Aztecs calling the syrup “gift from the gods.” It comes from agave plant which is also the same plant from where tequila is sourced. It has a taste that is very similar to honey.
Compared to sugar, agave nectar has less glucose and lower glycemic index. This means that our bodies can absorb the substance more slowly into the bloodstream. It will not also cause a rapid increase in insulin levels.
However, it contains higher levels of fructose which is metabolized by the liver. Thus you don’t want to use too much of agave nectar because it can put pressure on the liver.
In terms of sweetness, agave nectar is a lot sweeter than sugar thus you don’t have to use as much if you were to tap it as a sugar substitute. I usually replace one tablespoon of sugar with a teaspoon of agave nectar.
Agave nectar can be used for sweetening hot drinks like tea and coffee or adding a tinge of sweetness to porridge. It can also be utilized in baking.
Maple syrup is one of the healthiest sugar substitutes that you can find. Like agave nectar, it has a lower glycemic index compared to white or brown sugar. Thus, it won’t impact your blood sugar levels like table sugar.
It also has some trace minerals and antioxidants lacking in table sugar. One tablespoon of maple syrup has 33 percent of the recommended daily value of manganese. It also has zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium although in lower amounts.
Maple syrup isn’t as sweet as white sugar, so you might want to increase the amount of maple syrup you are to use instead of table sugar. Moreover, maple syrup can also affect the color of your foods because it is colored brown while table sugar is white.
You should also know that the maple syrup we are talking here is the pure or real maple syrup. Don’t use the maple syrup for pancakes!
Dates are fruits which have been cultivated and eaten by man thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. It is one of the sweetest fruits you will ever taste. It should come as no surprise that its sugar can be used as a table sugar substitute.
Whole dates fruits are typically used in energy bars not only because of their sweetness but also because of their stickiness. They’re also packed with nutrients like calcium, copper, vitamin B, vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.
You can use the same amount of date sugar to replace white sugar in a recipe. However, if you are to add sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves in a recipe, I suggest you use two-thirds of date sugar instead of sugar. The sweet spices can improve the existing sweetness of date sugar.
However, we won’t recommend using date sugar in smoothies and coffee because it doesn’t dissolve well.
This one is made from sap derived from coconut palm buds. A teaspoon of coconut sugar has about four grams of sugar and 15 calories, just like white sugar.
It has a flavor and consistency that would remind you of brown sugar, so it is not uncommon for people to use it as a replacement in recipes requiring brown sugar like cookies and bake beans. You can use the same amount of coconut sugar as required the table sugar in the recipe that you are following.
A byproduct of refined sugar production, molasses has a dark color and a very strong flavor that bodes well for baked goods despite it not being as sweet as sugar. It has a thick and syrup-like consistency. It also has small amounts of minerals like calcium, iron and B vitamins.
Because it is not as sweet as sugar, you might have to use more molasses for most recipes. For instance, we usually replace a cup of sugar with 1 1/3 cup molasses. You can then lower the amount of liquid in the recipe by about five teaspoons.
Derived from the yacon plant that is found in South America, yacon syrup has a consistency that is very similar to molasses. It is also sweet and dark in color.
It has gained a lot of mileage as a potential weight loss supplement, although there have been a few studies that can support this claim. It is naturally low in calories and glycemic index, making it a healthier alternative to sugar. In fact, it contains just a third of the calories found in sugar.
Yacon is great for diabetics because it can regulate insulin, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It also won’t cause cavities and tooth decay. However, it can cause bloating and gas because it is prebiotic.
It can be used in the same way as you would use honey instead of sugar. Decrease the amount of yacon syrup as it is slightly sweeter than table sugar.
Barley Malt Syrup
Similar to yacon syrup, barley malt extract is dark. It also has the thick consistency that can remind you of molasses. Some people even say that the taste of barley malt syrup and molasses are very much the same, although I can say that molasses have a stronger flavor.
Barley malt syrup also has its share of nutrients. It has high levels of protein and iron while also having traces of vitamins A, C, and calcium. I know that there are many bread recipes that suggest the use of barley malt syrup as a replacement for sugar. It can also be used in pizza dough and other baked desserts such as pecan pie.
Aside from baking, there are other uses of barley malt syrup. If you drink beer, then you may know that it is an ingredient used in making beer. It can also be used as a glaze on baked vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, and beans.
So how do you use barley malt syrup instead of sugar? For one part white sugar, you can substitute 1 1/3 parts of the syrup. You should also reduce the liquid in the recipe to add sweetness to the recipe.
As you can see, there are plenty of substitutes for sugar that you can use in your recipes. Whether you are to bake sweet treats like cookies or cake, or simply add sugar to your beverages such as coffee and tea, there are numerous sugar alternatives that you can choose from.
So what are you waiting for? Start stocking up on these eight alternatives to sugar so that you can use them once you come across a recipe that calls for the use of the regular table sugar.