Six Sugar Alternatives That Are All Natural

Photo credit: Dino Giordano / Flickr
Photo credit: Dino Giordano / Flickr

Are you trying to cut back on your sugar intake? If so, you may have explored the world of alternative sweeteners. While some people who want to add a touch of sweetness to their meals turn to artificial sweeteners such as Splenda or Nutrasweet, others prefer to avoid these synthetic products and opt for a more natural approach. If you’re confused by all the available options, here are some all natural sweeteners that can be an alternative to processed table sugar:

1. All natural sweeteners: Honey

Honey is enjoying a resurgence in popularity as people turn away from processed sugar and look for a healthy sweetener option. Although many people think honey is healthier than table sugar, it actually contains slightly more calories and carbohydrates than sugar. It does have a higher mineral content than sugar but when you consider the small amount generally used, this isn’t highly significant. One advantage to honey over table sugar is that it has a strong flavor meaning less of it is used. Generally, the darker honeys have a stronger flavor as well as a higher mineral content.

2. All natural sweeteners: Brown rice syrup

This is another sweetener that’s commonly used for baking. It’s derived from brown rice that’s cooked for a long period of time to create a sweet tasting syrup. It’s made up of both maltose and glucose. The maltose component has a lower glycemic index which means it doesn’t cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin level as does table sugar. It also has a higher protein content than most healthy sweeteners.

3. All natural sweeteners: Barley malt syrup

This is a sweetener that’s derived from sprouted barley grains and cooked to create a sweet syrup. It’s primarily used in baking and is best when combined with other sweeteners since it’s only about half as sweet as table sugar. Like brown rice syrup, it’s composed primarily of maltose which gives it a lower glycemic index than table sugar.

4. All natural sweeteners: Molasses

Molasses is a thick sweet, syrup derived during the manufacture of sugar from sugar cane. There are different types of molasses based on the level of extraction. The sweetest comes from the first extraction and is known as light molasses. The darkest form, blackstrap molasses, is the least sweet, and is derived from the final extraction. Although it doesn’t offer a significant caloric advantage over table sugar, it is higher in vitamins and minerals.

5. All natural sweeteners: Sorghum

This is another syrup derived from the sweet sorghum grain. It has a flavor somewhat similar to molasses and is rich in the minerals calcium, potassium, and iron. It can be used in baking or in recipes that call for molasses, maple syrup, or honey. Sorghum is also a rich source of phytochemicals which have antioxidant activity.

6. All natural sweeteners: Stevia

Stevia is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, a plant native to Brazil. It’s the principle non-sugar sweetener used in Japan and is rapidly gaining in popularity in the U.S. It has the advantage of being up to three hundred times sweeter than table sugar without inducing a glycemic response. A study carried out in 1985 suggesting that Stevia had the potential to cause genetic damage has been widely criticized with the majority of studies suggesting this sweetener is safe and may even offer health benefits. This sweetener is available in a variety of forms in most natural food markets and some mainstream grocery stores.

Other all natural sweeteners include fruit juice derived sweeteners and maple syrup. If you’re diabetic, talk to our doctor before using any of the sweeteners listed as some can have an effect on blood sugar levels.

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