Last week my tip was all about the health benefits of dark chocolate. Now, I’ve heard it said that there are some people (who shall remain nameless) who don’t like dark chocolate. Yes, it’s a sad truism, but that’s not a reason to to criticize!
Perhaps you are someone who does not eat even the smallest amounts of refined white sugar or cane sugar, if so, this week’s tip is especially for you. If you are looking to reduce the amount of refined sweeteners to less than 6 (100 calories) to 9 (150 calories) teaspoons of added sugars per day, look for these alternative sweetener ingredients.
Good news for your sweet tooth!
You can indulge a sweet tooth with ingredients that are high quality and not artificial. I’ve listed below 8 ingredients that can be used in place of refined (white/brown) sugar.
**When using some of these ingredients, though food and/or naturally sourced, consider that they may be a significant source of simple carbohydrates and calories, so you should use them judiciously, just like all other sweeteners.
The Big 8!
- Stevia: About 300 times sweeter than table sugar. Non-caloric, no impact on blood sugar, and may reduce blood pressure. May have unpleasant aftertaste. Verify what you buy is from 100% whole leaf stevia.
- Coconut Palm Sugar: About the same sweetness as table sugar. Also sold as coconut crystals, coconut sugar; low glycemic index, contains some nutrients and fiber. Still contains a moderate amount of fructose, which should be limited.
- Date Sugar: Despite the name it is not sugar, just granulated dried dates. Very sweet, looks like brown sugar. Does not dissolve in liquids, but can be used in place of brown sugar in baking. Date sugar is a whole food sweetener that contains plenty of fiber, minerals and antioxidants, as it is made from whole dates. Use conservatively as it is a significant source of simple carbohydrates and calories, so you should use it with caution, just like all other sweeteners.
- Honey: Slightly sweeter than table sugar, so use less. Best honey is raw, local and organic. Honey is rich in antioxidants, raises HDL (the good cholesterol) levels, and lowers triglycerides. While delicious and nutritious, it should be used in moderate amounts as it is still high in calories and carbohydrates.
- Lucuma Powder: Has a sweet, maple flavor. Buy 100% lucuma powder from this Peruvian fruit. It’s a good source of fiber and nutrients, boosts immune system, does not impact blood sugar levels, so a great choice for diabetics. Use in smoothies and in baking.
- Maple Syrup: About 3 times as sweet as table sugar. Choose organic, pure grade B maple syrup. Lower fructose content than table sugar, contains some trace minerals. Don’t overdo it; it’s still sugar.
- Monk Fruit: About 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar, also known as lo han guo, is a small round fruit grown in Southeast Asia. Monk fruit sweetener is created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice. The fruit extract, or juice, is around 150-200 times sweeter than sugar and contains zero calories per serving – meaning a very small amount provides a lot of sweetness. Non-caloric, no impact on blood sugar, may have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Using these ingredients in your cooking and baking will satisfy your sweet tooth without the empty (nutrient free) calories of sugar. Plus, in most cases, the end result will taste the same…or even better!