Here's a Look At the Best Natural Sweeteners

Posted by Luisa de Luca on

crystallized sugar

Having a sweet tooth can make life rough when you’re trying to eat right and lose weight. How many times have you tried to cut out sugar, but just can’t quit the sugar habit? While there’s something to be said about getting over a sugar addiction, it’s also possible to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Especially with the holiday season just around the corner, educating yourself on healthy, natural sweeteners is your ticket to still enjoying sweets – in moderation, of course! Take a look at these seven natural sugar alternatives:

Maple Syrup

Let’s be clear: we’re talking about the syrup made from the sap of maple trees, not maple-flavored sugar water. Containing more minerals than honey, maple syrup is full of potassium, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. It’s also high in antioxidants – 54 different types1, in fact! Of these antioxidants, some have been labeled “anti-cancer.” It has a lower GI than sugar (around 54) and has approximately 14 calories per teaspoon.

honeycomb

Honey

The natural product of our friendly bees, honey is one and a half times sweeter than sugar2 and has about 20 calories per teaspoon3. When choosing which bottle to get, always opt for raw, organic honey whenever possible. This unheated and unfiltered version still has all the natural enzymes, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in it. Another awesome benefit is how low raw honey ranks on the GI scale (around 40), meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar as much. It’s antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal4 – excellent for fighting sickness and even healing wounds! Of course, it still contains sugar so use sparingly, but being so much sweeter than regular table sugar a little goes a long way!

Coconut Sugar

Made from the sap of coconut flowers (not the fruit) this sweetener tastes similar to brown sugar or maple syrup and can be substituted for regular sugar at a 1:1 ratio in recipes. It contains a range of vitamins and minerals5, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1, and vitamin C. Low on the GI scale (54) with 16 calories per teaspoon, coconut sugar is your best bet at effortlessly making your holiday baking healthier!

Date Sugar

All the sweetness of dates put in a powder form. The one downside is this sweetener does taste like dates, which somewhat limits its uses in baking and cooking. However, it has one of the lowest GI’s1 for a natural sweetener (40) and a low calorie count (15 per teaspoon). Because it’s simply dried dates that have been powdered, date sugar has many of the same nutrients as dates: fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Stevia

Stevia is an herb that tastes sweet but doesn’t actually contain any sugar, making it a zero-calorie sweetener. It’s about 10 times sweeter than regular sugar3, so getting the right replacement ratio in recipes can be challenging but isn’t impossible. It has no impact on blood sugar levels1, keeping it nice and even without any spikes or crashes. The one downside is that even though it’s a natural sweetener, like many other artificial zero-calorie sweeteners it still has a bitter aftertaste.

molasses

Molasses

A byproduct of the refinement process for beets and sugarcane, blackstrap molasses is about as dark as molasses gets. The darker the molasses, the less sugar it contains but the richer it is in nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. In fact, some brands boast a serving contains up to 20% of your daily value of iron and 10% of your vitamin B6.1 Also lower on the GI scale than table sugar (55), molasses has 16 calories per teaspoon.

Monk Fruit (Lo Han)

A powder created from an Asian melon called Monk Fruit, Lo Han is a zero-calorie sweetener. With lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, this sweetener was even shown to potentially help with diabetes6. This is our favorite natural sweetener, and is the one we chose to sweeten our 310 Shakes with.

Remember, some of these natural sweeteners still contain sugar, so it’s important not to go overboard. The main benefit you’re getting from replacing regular table sugar with one of these natural sugar alternatives is a less-processed sweetener that ranks lower on the GI scale. This means in addition to sugar, you’re still getting other benefits (like the zinc in maple syrup or antioxidants in honey). Because they’re lower on the GI scale, these sugars won’t affect spiking your blood sugar as much. This holiday season, don’t fear sugar! Cheat responsibly, and use these natural sweeteners to still enjoy the foods you love.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.prevention.com/food/healthiest-natural-sweetners
  2. http://bodyecology.com/articles/which_are_good_sweeteners.php
  3. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/top-5-healthiest-natural-sweeteners.html#b
  4. http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/how-sweeten-without-artificial-sweeteners/1-raw-honey
  5. http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/natural-sweeteners-healthiest-sugar/2015/05/25/id/646609/
  6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-virgin/natural-sweeteners_b_3053890.html

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