People love processed white sugar, but using alternative natural sweeteners is one way to create foods that support good health.
It was last June when I first introduced this article, but it is worth repeating again…
I have friends that just can’t seem to get free from their “sugar” addiction… and you may be thinking, “I can’t be addicted to something that’s not classified as a drug.”
Well, the science says it’s still addictive. So for many people, they just can’t quit the delicious addictive product of processed sugar.
Maybe it’s because they don’t know what to replace it with.
There are many great alternatives to the refined, processed poison, we call sugar today!
“Natural” doesn’t mean these sweeteners can’t be as detrimental to good health as the white stuff.
We still need to be aware of the glycemic index and how these natural sweeteners affect our sugar levels for optimum health.
When you choose a sweetener for a recipe, even though it’s not
be mindful of who you’ll be serving it to; are you serving it to diabetics or those sensitive to fructose or children?
Agave nectar is a natural vegan sweetener made from the liquid in the bulb of the agave cactus. There is presently much debate as to whether or not it’s raw and if it is nutritious. The consensus is that the darker version is unfiltered and contains higher concentrations of naturally occurring minerals. Agave is high in fructose so use sparingly or in combination with other sweeteners.
Coconut nectar is a 100% natural raw vegan sweetener made from pure fresh coconut sap. It has a light, rich sweet flavor reminiscent of the coconut fruit. Low in fructose and low on the glycemic index, coconut nectar makes a perfect substitute for agave nectar. (Some companies boil the nectar before bottling and although vegan, it is obviously not raw thus losing some of its nutritional value.) Read the label and make sure your product is minimally evaporated at low temperatures never exceeding 115 degrees F to insure it’s raw.
Coconut Sugar is made from coconut palm sugar blossoms. It’s low on the glycemic index, loaded with minerals and B vitamins and although vegan, is not a raw product.
Date Paste is made from dates that have been soaked in water, then blended to form a paste that is a whole food. Dates are high in natural sugars so they’re a “high glycemic” food.
Honey has antibacterial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. When using honey, search out local, unprocessed, unheated raw honey. This is not a vegan product, is high on the glycemic index, high in calories and raises blood-sugars levels more quickly than white sugar. Avoid using for babies, infants and children because of its potential pollen reactions.
Lakanto is a zero calorie sweetener that has absolutely no influence on blood sugar and the release of insulin. It’s a fermented sweetener made from a sugar alcohol naturally found in grapes, pears, mushrooms, soy sauce, cheese, wine and beer called “erythritol” and an extract from a super sweet Asian fruit called luohanguo.
Maple syrup is made from the boiled sap from maple trees. It’s “higher on the glycemic” index, but has fewer calories and more minerals then honey. Using only the darker grade B maple syrups will ensure you maximum mineralization and richer flavor then the other versions.
Maple Sugar: is a higher concentrated version of the syrup.
This slightly sweet, intensely rich flavored syrup is a byproduct of processing cane and beet sugars. First press molasses is light in color and flavor. (Repeated boiling results in the dark, blackstrap molasses.) Although high on the glycemic level, molasses contains measurable amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium, making it more nutritious than many other sweeteners.
Rapadura is simply unrefined evaporated cane juice. Because it is minimally processed, it retains all the nutritional value lost in the processing of the white stuff. Rapadura is a good source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin A.
Stevia is a super sweet sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant, a perennial shrub native to Brazil and Paraguay. Stevia is sold in powder or liquid form and is “zero on the glycemic” index. The liquid comes in a plethora of flavors which can enhance many recipes. A little goes a long way with this product; Stevia is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
Yacon syrup is made from the tubular roots of the yacon plant. There are so many reasons to love this stuff; it’s raw vegan, low on the glycemic index, low in calories and it’s a pre-biotic (non-digestible carbohydrate that help the good bacteria in our guts thrive). The deeply rich flavor is reminiscent of molasses, maple syrup, or honey and it makes a great substitute for your recipes. Yacon syrup is about twice as sweet as sugar so you need less of it which is a good thing considering it is a bit pricey!
So, now that you have all this information, it’s pretty clear that there’s no need for that “white processed stuff.”
Now you can get creative using your new found knowledge on natural sweeteners. Stop feeling chained to white
Author: Steve Berchtold