It’s rare for someone to not enjoy the sweeter things in life and we all love finishing a meal with something sweet. Having a sweet snack is also one of life’s little rewards, but too much sugar can be detrimental to our health and can contribute to diseases including, diabetes, heart defects, obesity, and even cancer. Sugar is also devoid of vitamins and minerals, and any genuine health benefits. Besides its ability to give you energy, it should be limited, it not almost totally avoided.
Is losing weight as easy as swapping out sugar from your diet?
There is a particularly strong link between sugar and obesity so overweight people should definitely be looking to limit their sugar intake. By removing sugar from their diet they will soon see the benefits and also see their weight dropping.
Sugars can be addictive and replacing it with a substitute is a good way to limit, or completely remove it from your diet. Your body will certainly thank you in the long run.
You can get your sweet goodness from natural alternatives and these come in various forms. We decided to create a list of them so you can start reducing your sugar intake and make better choices moving forward.
1. Maple syrup
Maple syrup is taken from the sap of maple trees and has a delightfully unique flavor. Maple syrup works well in many different guises and can be used cold or works equally well when heated up. There are many varieties of maple syrup and the darker ones should be favored, due to their higher traces of antioxidants. Maple syrup is also a great source of manganese, zinc, potassium and calcium.
Lovingly made for you by bees, honey is usually your first thought when trying to find alternatives to sugar. Honey is great for many reasons, including its ability to raise the levels of antioxidants in the blood, and helping lowering the risk of disease.
Honey comes in different forms and where possible you should purchase raw honey. This type of honey is full of beneficial properties including zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin.
Like maple syrup, honey is great for using in many different ways. You can use it to sweeten many different dishes but can also be an alternative to having sugar in your tea. You may also look to manuka honey for its anti-bacterial properties.
Molasses is a deep rich color and is tastes similarly to treacle. This thick syrup is a by-product of the sugar making process and is made from boiling down sugar cane. With more antioxidants in it than both maple syrup and honey, molasses also is high in potassium and calcium; which is great for bones and your heart.
As well as molasses, which comes from the first boiling of the cane sugar syrup, you can also use blackstrap molasses, which comes from the third boiling. The blackstrap molasses is the better option and contains higher levels of calcium and iron.
This natural sweetener is extracted from the leaves of a South American plant. The sweetener has zero calories and is also linked to lowering high blood pressure. As well as this, it can lower blood sugar and insulin levels, thus helping diabetes.
Coming in both powder and liquid form, stevia can vary in taste depending on the specific product purchased. This also means that’s the products benefits can also vary, which makes it a slightly more unpredictable compound. Check what you’re buying and read the labels when purchasing to make sure you’re getting the best product.
5. Agave nectar
Extracted from the agave plant, agave nectar is sweet and much more so than other substitutes on the list. It also has a high fructose content so should be used sparingly. Despite this, agave nectar is still a good substitute for sugar when used in sensible quantities and moderation is key as usual.
The agave plant is also where tequila comes from so you might already be familiar with the taste!
6. Brown rice syrup
This complex carbohydrate comes in syrup form and is made by treating wholegrain rice with enzymes. It has a taste similar to a light honey so can be used in a similar fashion. However, it does have a high glycemic index and a high calorie content so should be used only often.
Dates needn’t be left just for Christmas and can be used as an effective sugar substitute too. They are packed full of potassium, iron, magnesium, copper, and vitamin B6, and are also easy to digest and help metabolize carbs, fats, and proteins.
Not only do dates make a great sugar substitute, but they can also help reduce cholesterol and can reduce your risk of a stroke.
The dried grape is great at adding both sweetness and texture to dishes like porridge. They’re also excellent for using in baking and add a nice sweet burst in healthy cookies or muffins. Raisins are also full of antioxidants and fiber.
9. Pureed bananas
Bananas are a good substitute when pureed, and can be added to many different dishes. Overripe bananas are the best for the job as they are much sweeter. They are also rich in potassium and fiber, and a good source of vitamins B6 and C. Banana puree can be added to porridge but can also be used to bake delicious bread or muffins.
This spicy powder is ideal for adding extra flavor to your dishes. It boosts immunities and has no calories, so it’s virtually guilt-free. You can add a dash of cinnamon on top of your coffee or even fruit if it needs jazzing up a bit.
These little red berries add a great burst of flavor, and like raisins, are great for baking and cooking with. They’re full of antioxidants and have a tart taste to them. You can also cook them down to make a jam or juice, which can be stored to have at your leisure.
12. Coconut sugar
The coconut has become a powerful and popular food in recent times, and it’s consumed as a snack, drink, and oil. Its versatility knows no bounds it can also be useful as a sugar. Coconut sugar is a natural sugar substitute full of iron, zinc, antioxidants, and potassium.
Coconut sugar comes in both solid and liquid form; however, it is more common in solid form due to its similarity to normal sugar. This similarity means it serves as a simple direct replacement in most dishes.
13. Barley malt syrup
This isn’t one for the coeliac amongst you because it’s produced from barley. The thick and dark brown sweetener has a toasted taste and is about as half as sweet as normal refined sugar. It can also be purchased in granulated form and makes a reasonable replacement for brown sugar.
14. Unsweetened cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is great for satisfying your sweet tooth, particularly at the colder times of year. Have it with skimmed milk or water to avoid adding too many calories and you can always top it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Sugar is addictive and when consumed in large quantities can be very bad for your health. It is present in so many foods, and we often don’t realize how much it is present in the foods we are eating. This is particularly evident with processed foods and limiting your intake of processed foods should be the first port of call.
The above listed substitutes are particularly useful when cooking your own fresh produce. By cooking your own meals you are making it easier to control what you are eating, and this makes creating a wholesome dieter much easier too.
Once you start experimenting with some of these sugar substitutes, you’ll soon start to realize how adaptable they are. You will also learn what substitute works best for which dish, and this will make the tastiest end product.
Theses sugar substitutes are also just a small number of the available products out there for you, and if you find anymore we’d love to hear about them.