We all love sweet-tasting desserts or drinks, which is why they become so addictive. Most of the time, refined sugars and other additives are added to these recipes to improve their taste, and we love them. But do you know that these sweeteners can be detrimental to your health? Are there any healthy natural sugar substitutes to replace refined sugar?
Is refined sugar good for you?
Refined and artificial sugars can be detrimental to your health. Here is why
Most contain high calories but are deficient in nutrients.
Chemical processes are involved during the manufacture of refined sugar. These processes destroy and wash away the natural nutrients in sugar cane.
This makes refined sugars more deficient in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Additionally, harmful additives and artificial enzymes devoid of nutrients are then added to make the end product taste sweet.
Refined sugars are only good at promoting inflammation.
In one study researchers found that the excessive intake of sugar can interfere with your metabolism and can increase the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease. The inflammation can as well contribute to other health complications.
May cause weight gain and spike your insulin levels
Consuming too much-refined sugar puts you at risk of accumulating excessive fat around body tissues which can make you overweight or cause insulin resistance.
Refined Sugar is very addictive, yet it does not provide any satiety like most healthy whole foods.
Are natural sugar substitutes a better option?
Though natural sweeteners are sugars too, most contain complex sugars that are a better option to refined sugar. Natural sugar substitutes are:
- Less processed compared to refined sugar thus contain some healthy nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
- Natural sugars such as maple syrup and honey can prevent or reduce the progression of some diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancers.
- May aid in weight loss and reduce inflammation in body tissues.
Are there any healthy alternatives to refined sugar that can excite our taste buds without being detrimental to our health?
In my research, l found these six healthy natural sugar substitutes to be healthier compared to other natural sugars as well as refined sugars. They are less processed and have some nutritional benefits to your health.
Here are the 8 Healthy natural sugar Substitutes.
1.Real organic maple syrup
Maple syrup is obtained from the sap of the sugar maple tree. Holes are drilled to tap the syrup into the trunk of the maple tree, then the fluid is collected. The sap is then processed by heating until the water evaporates, and a thick, concentrated sugar syrup is produced.
The syrup has two different grades-grade A or B.Grade A is further categorized into light amber, medium amber, or dark amber. Grade B is slightly darker than the rest. Studies have shown that dark-colored maple syrup is very beneficial as it can suppress the progression of gastrointestinal cancer.
Pure maple syrup is a better option to table sugar since it is less processed, has a lower glycemic index of 54 compared to that of sugar (65). Therefore it helps regulate blood sugar since it raises blood sugar slowly compared to refined sugar.
Maple syrup is high in nutrients and antioxidants, which helps to reduce the effects of free radicals in the body. The darker grade has more antioxidants than other categories.
Maple syrup can be used in baking, can be added to smoothies, beverages, or drizzled on pancakes.
Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. The leaves are harvested and dried, and then they are processed into a powdery sugar, which tastes much sweeter than the ordinary sugar. This sweetener can be obtained in both liquid and powder form.
Stevia has an aftertaste that some people may not enjoy. Nevertheless, stevia helps to lower and stabilize blood sugar levels and has fewer calories compared to ordinary sugar. It is a good option for people with diabetes.
In one past study, it was found that stevia can alleviate liver and kidney damage in rats due to its antioxidant,anti-diabetic, and renal protective properties. These findings have also been confirmed in some studies with patients suffering from kidney damage.
Additionally, stevia can help lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss as well as lower high blood pressure. Unfortunately, it can interact with some medications; hence it is good to consult your doctor before adding it in your diet.
3.Monk fruit natural sugar substitute
Monk fruit sweetener or extract is obtained from the seeds and skin of the monk fruit. The seeds and the skin are crushed to produce juice. The juice is then dried into a powder.
Monk fruit sweetener has zero calories, yet it is sweeter than refined sugar. It is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the body.
You can use monk fruit sweetener in beverages, juices, smoothies, and other soft drinks. It can also be used in baking though it may interfere with the structure, texture, and taste of some baked foods.
Try to purchase pure organic brands that do not contain erythritol if you can.
This natural sugar substitute is obtained from dried and ground dates. It is common in liquid, paste, or granulated forms. You can easily make date sugar at home.
Date sugar is rich in fiber, vitamin B, and minerals such as potassium and iron. It has a very high glycemic index and can easily cause a spike in your blood sugar levels if consumed in excess. It is, therefore, not suitable for people with diabetes.
Date sugar can be used effectively in baked foods such as granola bars, cookies, smoothies, and some beverages.
Unlike refined sugar, date sugar does not dissolve or melt in liquids unless you use it in its liquid form.
Coconut sugar is obtained from coconut palm tree sap or flowers. The sap is collected, boiled, and dehydrated to produce sugar granules.
Coconut sugar contains fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and a few contents of minerals such as calcium, zinc, and potassium.
It has a lower glycemic index, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. On the contrary, it is high in calories hence should be consumed in moderation.
You can use Coconut sugar in your beverages, soft drinks, smoothies, and baked foods such as cakes, cookies, and muffins.
6.Pure raw honey
Honey is obtained from bees. It is much healthier compared to refined sugar due to its many health benefits. Honey is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which makes it potent for relieving allergies, and healing wounds. Previous studies show that honey has great potential for preventing heart diseases.
Unfortunately, honey is high in calories compared to refined sugar and can increase blood sugar levels, which can consequently contribute to weight gain or diabetes. Consume it moderation to realize its benefits to your health.
Honey makes beverages, soft drinks, baked foods, and salad dressing more delicious.
Read more: Healthy Foods making you Fat
7.Unsulphured Molasses natural sugar substitute
Molasses is a thick dark or brown syrup made from boiled raw sugar cane or sugar beet juice. It has a slightly sweet, dark taste; hence you may need to add more for a better taste.
Molasses is nutritious and contain vitamins, antioxidants and is rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron, which are great for your health.
You can use molasses to sweeten beverages, soft drinks, or some desserts such as bread, cookies, and even pancakes.
8. Yacon syrup
Yacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the Yacon plant. It has a molasses-like dark or brown color with a caramel-like taste. It has fewer calories compared to refined sugar and does not affect blood sugar.
You can add yacon syrup to beverages and salad dressings; however, it is not great for cooking at very high temperatures.
Among these refined sugar substitutes, which one is your favorite and why. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.