We live in a health-conscious world where products on supermarket aisles endorse products that are “sugar-free” or with “no added sugar” and dieticians recommend cutting out refined sugar from diets.
Since refined sugar is linked to obesity and cardiovascular diseases, a lot of people today are looking for natural sweeteners that they can replace their jar of white sugar with. Here are 6 that might do the trick.
Arguably the most popular alternative to table sugar, bee’s honey is touted for its numerous health benefits. Research indicates that consuming honey protects against gastrointestinal infections such as gastritis, duodenitis, and gastric ulceration.
Additionally, honey contains vitamins like B2, B4, B5, B6, B11, and vitamin C. Minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese are also found in this sweetener.1
Honey also contains flavonoids which have antioxidant properties. However, be sure to opt for darker and raw honey since they are higher in antioxidants.2
2. Maple Syrup
Made from the sap of maple trees, this popular sweetener is more than just the perfect companion to pancakes and waffles. Research indicates that maple syrup contains vitamin B2, B5, B6, niacin, biotin, and folic acid.
Maple syrup is also rich in calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Additionally, maple syrup might contain trace amounts of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. However, be sure to avoid pancake syrup and opt for all-natural maple syrup instead.3
3. Coconut Sugar
The popular new entrant in the world of baking and desserts, coconut sugar is made from the sap of flower buds from the coconut palm tree. It tastes just like brown sugar but has a few benefits s that it boasts of.4
Coconut sugar has trace elements of iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium. It also consists of a fiber called promote the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria, which is commonly found in probiotics. This bacteria promotes gut health and prevents intestinal disorders.5
Additionally, inulin might slow down glucose absorption, hence keeping glucose levels in check. Studies, hence, indicate that coconut sugar is a good option for people with type 2 diabetes. But, it might be a good idea to check with a medical professional before opting for it.6
Date-sweetened desserts are all the rage at the moment. Dates are nutritious and contain vitamins A, B1, B2, and C along with nicotinic acid (niacin).
Dates are also high in boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, zinc, and dietary fiber. Studies indicate that selenium in dates boosts immune function while pectin aids weight loss, controls diarrhea, and lowers cholesterol.7 8
Dates have a natural caramel-like flavor which comes through when you use them raw. You could also use date syrup or sugar, but the two aren’t as nutritious as whole dates.
This is a popular low-calorie option that is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. Native to South America, stevia is 100–300 times sweeter than table sugar.9
Stevia is used for medicinal purposes, including lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, relieving a heartburn, lowering high uric acid levels in the blood. It is also used to stimulate the heart rate and retain water. However, if you do suffer from diabetes, consult a professional before opting for it.10
6. Yacon Syrup
Relatively unknown as compared to all the other sweeteners mentioned here, yacon syrup is made from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant which is indigenous to the Andes mountains in South America.
Some research links yacon syrup to satiety and, in turn, weight loss in obese women.11 Yacon is also rich in fructooligosaccharides (a type of dietary fiber) and inulin which promote gut health. When had in moderation, this syrup can also cure constipation.12
Although these serve as natural alternatives to sugar, it’s important to have them in moderation. Excess of any of these sweeteners can lead to health complications.13
|↑1||Eteraf-Oskouei, Tahereh, and Moslem Najafi. “Traditional and modern uses of natural honey in human diseases: a review.” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences 16, no. 6 (2013): 731.|
|↑2||Ediriweera, E. R. H. S. S., and N. Y. S. Premarathna. “Medicinal and cosmetic uses of bee’s honey–A review.” Ayu 33, no. 2 (2012): 178.|
|↑3||Maple Syrup, Healthy Native Foods. Natural Resources Conservation Service.|
|↑4||Nutritional And Health Benefits Of Coconut Sap Sugar. Philippine Coconut Authority.|
|↑5||Niness, Kathy R. “Inulin and oligofructose: what are they?.” The Journal of Nutrition 129, no. 7 (1999): 1402S-1406s.|
|↑6||Pourghassem Gargari, Bahram, Parvin Dehghan, Akbar Aliasgharzadeh, and Mohammad Asghari Jafar-abadi. “Effects of high-performance inulin supplementation on glycemic control and antioxidant status in women with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes & metabolism journal 37, no. 2 (2013): 140-148.|
|↑7||Vayalil, Praveen K. “Date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera Linn): an emerging medicinal food.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 52, no. 3 (2012): 249-271.|
|↑8||Al-Shahib, Walid, and Richard J. Marshall. “The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future?.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition 54, no. 4 (2003): 247-259.|
|↑9||Goyal, S. K., and R. K. Goyal. “Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition (2010).|
|↑10||Stevia. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑11||Genta, Susana, Wilfredo Cabrera, Natalia Habib, Juan Pons, Iván Manrique Carillo, Alfredo Grau, and Sara Sánchez. “Yacon syrup: beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans.” Clinical Nutrition 28, no. 2 (2009): 182-187.|
|↑12||Coussement, Paul AA. “Inulin and oligofructose: safe intakes and legal status.” The Journal of Nutrition 129, no. 7 (1999): 1412S-1417s.|
|↑13||The sweet danger of sugar. Harvard Health Publishing.|