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Top 10 Natural And Healthy Substitutes For Sugar

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Our excessive consumption of sugar is dangerous for our health: addiction, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cavities … From honey to stevia, there are nowadays many natural alternatives to satisfy his penchant for sweet treats. A little overview.

It may be a little sweetness that you like with your coffee or to add to certain preparations. However, refined white sugar is composed almost exclusively of saccharose, a cocktail of calories that do not contribute anything to the body. But it is particularly addictive! This is why sugar has a particularly high glycemic index (GI 70).

The popularity of sweets and lemonades and the concomitant consumption of frightening amounts of sugar are only part of the problem. We are also seeing many food industries secretly adding sugar to ready-to-use foods where we don’t expect it: tomato sauce, ketchup, breakfast cereals, canned soups, pickles with vinegar… Not only do people eat too much sugar on a daily basis, they often don’t even realize it.

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The white sugar that we find in the trade is not really an ideal companion for our diet. The latter, so refined, is indeed quite uninteresting for the body. Here is a list of the best alternatives to white sugar: learn how to replace it every day.

1. Agave nectar

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Agave syrup is a natural sweetener with a high sweetening power and a low glycemic index. Since it has a neutral taste, it can imperceptibly substitute for sugar. In addition, it dissolves quickly in a liquid recipe or in a hot drink.

On the market, there are a few new products on the market with agave syrup as a sweetening ingredient. It is an excellent alternative for people who need to monitor their carbohydrate intake.

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Native to Mexico, blue agave is a cactus resembling a yucca, with large, pointed, rigid leaves. This plant is known for its high content of fructose, a natural fruit sugar. When the agave reaches between 7 and 10 years of age, the leaves are removed to harvest the heart of the plant, called piña, similar to a pineapple. To make the syrup, the piñas are pressed and heated at a low temperature for several days.

2. Stevia

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Stevia has many properties. Indeed, unlike other sweeteners, stevia is a natural product and has no calories. Moreover, very little stevia is enough to sweeten a drink or any other food preparation because its sweetening power is between 300 and 400 times more powerful than usual sugar. Finally, unlike aspartame for example, it does not give any aftertaste.

Stevia is beneficial in the fight against obesity because of its total absence of calories. As a result, people who want to lose weight or keep their figure prefer stevia to the usual sugar. Stevia also contains beneficial properties to fight against diabetes and dental caries.

The consumption of stevia does not require special precautions except for allergic people. Pregnant women should also limit their consumption of stevia until further studies on this plant have been carried out.

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Stevia is not a sweetener like any other because it contains no chemicals unlike sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin or splenda.

3. Maple syrup

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Originally from Quebec, maple syrup is a naturally sweet solution obtained by concentrating the sap of certain varieties of maple trees. Its nutritional and taste quality gives it a place of choice among sweetening products. 

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that contains no coloring or additives. It is a less “sweet” product than sugar. Its richness in polyphenols gives it anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that would have a favorable impact on pro-inflammatory diseases such as diabetes or cancer, but this has yet to be proven. It also contains many essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese and magnesium. 

It is 260 kcal less caloric compared to 304 kcal for honey and 398 kcal for white sugar. Like honey and unlike refined sugar it is a natural sweetener. But it contains more minerals, Ca, Mg, Iron, K, Zn than honey. 

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The polyphenols present in maple syrup, as well as its lower glycemic index than sugar (55 versus 70 for sugar), limits fluctuations in blood sugar levels. However, it should not be forgotten that maple syrup is still a source of simple concentrated sugars, so it should be consumed in limited quantities, just like all the others, especially when you are diabetic. 

4. Molasses

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Molasses is a syrup created from sugar cane sap. Molasses is known to have an intense taste reminiscent of liquorice. It has a reduced sugar content, about 50% of which 30% is sucrose and 20% glucose + fructose. This composition makes molasses an excellent sweetener that can be incorporated in sweet preparations. Molasses is also used to make certain rums.

Molasses comes in the form of a thick syrup. Its color is dark brown or even black. If molasses is extracted from sugar cane, it can also come from beet sugar.

Molasses can be incorporated into many culinary preparations. On the sweet side, it can be used in pastries such as cookies, cakes and gingerbread. It can also bring a sweet touch to sauces for meat and fish.

Molasses is used in herbal teas and teas to replace sugar. This syrup is also ideal to enhance the taste of plain yogurt. You can put some on toast in the morning or during the afternoon break.

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To keep the molasses, it is best to place it in a dry place, at room temperature, between 10 and 20 degrees. Under these conditions, it can be kept for one year. Avoid cold temperatures, which can alter the texture and taste of molasses.

5. Honey

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Honey is a delicious natural product full of apitherapy benefits. No wonder we want to put it everywhere! In fact, it is increasingly used as a substitute for white sugar in recipes.

Honey contains more carbohydrates than sugar. For a cup, we speak respectively of 280 g against 210 g. As it is also sweeter to taste, it is preferable to adjust the quantity of honey in relation to the amount of sugar required.

As honey is liquid, it obviously contains more water than sugar. In general, it is composed of about 60 ml of water for every 250 ml, or 18%. This addition of liquid must be compensated for by removing a certain amount of milk or yogurt, for example, in the initial recipe.

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Naturally present in honey, glucose and fructose tend to brown more during cooking than regular sugar. To avoid unpleasant surprises, reduce the oven temperature by 15°C, or 25°F, especially for recipes that require more than 125 ml of honey.

6. Barley malt extract

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Pure drinking water is used to extract the constituents of malt, especially starch, proteins, minerals, which are then degraded with natural enzymes specific to malt such as malt sugar, or maltose. The concentration of the wort, from which the malt extract is obtained, is carried out with the utmost care by vacuum evaporation at low temperature.

Thanks to its gentle and natural production process, barley malt extract is therefore a natural product (without additives) with a high nutritional value.

Malt extract is a good substitute for refined sugars (sucrose, glucose syrup, etc.). In addition to being a source of sugar and energy, it also provides other valuable substances (e.g. minerals) suitable for human consumption.

The sweetening power of malt extract, which is approximately the same as that of 42DE glucose syrup, is half that of sucrose.

Barley malt extract contains:

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  • Sucrose in very small quantities
  • Enzymatically degraded proteins
  • Enzymes (diastasic malt extract)
  • Vitamins (from the B group)
  • Mineral salts
  • Highly aromatic sapid and fragrant substances
  • Easily absorbable carbohydrates

7. Yacón syrup

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The yacon is a perennial herbaceous plant whose original cultivation area is located in South America, more precisely in Peru. Yacon produces a tuberous, edible, crunchy and sweet tasting vegetable. This long and fleshy tuber, with a rather tapered shape, reminds one of the pear, hence its name “earth pear”.

In addition to its high water content, yacon consists of two main substances, inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin is a polymer of glucose and a soluble dietary fiber which, by nature, is not digested by the amylase enzymes in the intestine. It reaches the intact colon, where it is metabolized by the intestinal flora. This metabolization stimulates the development of bacteria beneficial to the intestinal flora. This is why inulin is considered a prebiotic substance. But inulin is above all a sweetening agent which has the advantage that it does not raise blood sugar levels because it is not transformed into a monosaccharide by digestion. Moreover, the ground pear is rich in fructo-oligosaccharides.

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Fructo-oligosaccharides are substances composed of two sugars, fructose and glucose. Like inulin, FOS are resistant to digestive enzymes, but are digested by the intestinal flora. They stimulate the multiplication of good bacteria, such as bifidobacterium for example, and are also considered prebiotics. Remember that prebiotics contribute to the good health of probiotics. They provide abundant and adequate nutrition to the intestinal flora.

8. Xylitol

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In addition to being a healthy, natural sweetener free of the harmful side effects of sugar and artificial substitutes, xylitol has the ability to stabilize insulin levels in diabetics. If you suffer from this disorder, imagine never having to feel those guilt tugs again by biting into a xylitol-sweetened brownie. And how about boosting your bone density while enjoying your favorite hot drink with two spoonfuls of crystallized xylitol while eliminating the risk of cavities and gum disease? With xylitol, you can both satisfy your sweet tooth and cure it at the same time 

Consuming sugar causes the rapid release of glucose, or blood sugar. In response, the pancreas secretes insulin to move it into the cells, where it is burned for energy. Too much glucose stresses the system and, over time, the cells become less sensitive to insulin.

This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a huge health problem and is estimated to affect half of the population.

Insulin resistance is associated with abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes since the mid-1900s corresponds directly to the increase in our sugar intake. Several clinical studies have shown that xylitol is metabolized very slowly.

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In fact, on the glycemic index, which measures the speed at which food passes through the bloodstream, sugar reaches 100 while xylitol reaches only 7

9. Rapadura

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Rapadura, also called whole cane sugar, is obtained by simple evaporation of the sugar cane juice. Here are the characteristics and benefits of this product sold in organic stores

The rapadura found in organic stores is a sugar with a surprising texture since it is both moist, soft and darker than other sugars, including the so-called “brown” sugars.

This product also called whole sugar or integral sugar is a cane sugar, obtained by evaporating the juice of the sugar cane.

This sugar is known by many names: gur or jaggery in South Asia, chancaca, panela, piloncillo or rapadura in Mexico and South America, sucanat, mascobado or muscovado. In Europe, it is the term “rapadura”, of Brazilian origin, which is the most commonly used because it has been registered as a trademark by the German company Rapunzel.

The real rapadura is a sugar that has not undergone any processing or refining and has therefore retained all the mineral salts, vitamins and amino acids of sugar cane.

It can be recognized by its very dark color and moist texture. It is an uncrystallized sugar that tends to agglomerate.

Its composition (saccharose, fructose, glucose and mineral contents), as well as its color and flavor vary according to the quality of the cane and the place of production.

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This complete cane sugar is recommended for its richness in mineral salts and vitamins.

10. Erythritol

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Erythritol comes from a fermentation process found in fruit, beer and wine. The fermentation process produces a highly sweetened syrup which, once cleaned, will leave only the erythritol crystals.

These erythritol crystals have exactly the same appearance as white sugar, in addition to having the same much sought-after sweet taste. Close to sugar on these two points, erythritol differs by its very advantageous nutritional values.

Erythritol is one of the best alternatives to white sugar, for all gourmets who want to continue to indulge themselves while eating a healthy diet. The body does not assimilate erythritol, so it cannot produce calories and affect blood sugar levels.

Its first advantage is to answer the question: How to replace sugar in your diet? Erythritol is a natural sweetener that is calorie-free, making it ideal for people who want to lose weight and for diabetics. In addition to providing no calories, erythritol has a zero glycemic index, which means it will not affect blood sugar levels. In addition, erythritol has no impact on the triglycerides that cause cholesterol levels.

Erythritol has a better digestive tolerance than other polyols such as xylitol or maltitol because it is present in common fruits, the body already knows it. No laxative effects in case of too much consumption as it could happen with other polyols.

About the author

Floyd Porter

I'm a writer and content creator, i also do freelance teaching, translation, and copywriting work, I love music, movies and video games, I'm passionate about social media and can't live without the internet, especially for all the interesting stories out there ;)