Are you trying to cut refined sugar from your diet? Given sugar’s addictive properties and negative effects on health, we’d say you’re on the right track. We also know it isn’t easy to remove this substance from your life, as it activates the reward center of your brain and creates a sense of euphoria.
But there are more innocent, natural sugar options that will calm your sugar cravings. Not all sugar is created equal, and the type you choose can affect your mind and body in different ways.
Here are some healthier sugar alternatives that might help you in your recipes:
Coconut sugar is minimally processed and has a low glycemic index. It’s highly nutritious, containing zinc, iron, and some antioxidants. It has also been designated the single most sustainable sweetener in the world by The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
While being a great alternative to regular sugar, especially in dessert recipes, consumption of coconut sugar should be limited due to its high fructose content.
With its high potassium and antioxidant levels, this delicious dried fruit can be ground into a paste and makes a great alternative to white sugar in smoothies and raw desserts. To make it easier to grind the dates, you can soak them in warm water for a while beforehand.
Dates also have a high fructose content, which means they can quickly increase blood sugar, so they must be consumed in moderation.
STEVIA LEAF POWDER
Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener. Yes, you read that right! It is simply the leaf of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, ground into a powder. It has no calories, no carbohydrates and has a zero glycemic index, so it doesn’t affect your blood glucose levels or interfere with insulin. You can add it to your recipes, or tea and coffee.
But once again, bear in mind that even this innocent-looking substance perpetuates the desire for sweets, tricking your gut microorganisms to crave more. So consume it in moderation and avoid commercial varieties of Stevia, which are highly refined.
Probably the oldest replacement for sugar all around the world, and one of the healthiest foods nature has to offer – raw honey! It is known to be anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
In order to benefit from these nutritional properties, it’s very important that the honey is raw. You won’t get the same benefits from heated ‘commercial’ honey.
With its antioxidants and B vitamins, honey has been used as an additive to teas as a cold remedy, and this is a great choice to add a little sweetness to your drink – but don’t overdo it. Honey is high in fructose too.
Molasses is the thick, dark brown syrup obtained from raw sugar cane during the refining process. It is way healthier than the final product – white sugar. It has a rich flavor, and unlike processed sugar, molasses is extremely rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc, and is often recommended to those with low blood iron levels. The darker the color, the richer the nutrients!
Like other sugar alternatives, molasses should be used sparingly, as it contains high amounts of fructose.
The bottom line
Although these alternatives are way healthier in terms of nutrients and are less processed than conventional sugar, they still have to be consumed in moderation. Fructose (fruit sugar) is still sugar, and high levels of sugar consumption are associated with:
- Low immunity,
- Chromium deficiency,
- Faster aging,
- Tooth decay,
- Stress increase, and
- Dysfunctions in the gut microbiome.