Sugar is our sweet drug of choice. Believe it or not, many people want to quit it, but may not be ready just yet to quit sugar altogether.
Sugar has long been integrated into our food mechanism but, you never imagine that the sugar is no longer confined to only desserts and sweet items, but almost all our foods.
Dietary guidelines suggest limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10% per day. Americans consume on average about 270 calories of sugar each day, that’s about 17 teaspoons a day. However, dieticians strictly recommend limiting the consumption of about 12 teaspoons per day or 200 calories.
So, did you realize why sugar causes so much harm to your health? Daily fruit juice drinks we consume have a minimum amount of added sugar in it. Candy, baked goods, and sweetened dairy are the prime sources of added sugar. Don’t think that savory foods like bread, tomato sauce, or protein bars don’t contain sugar! There is a high chance that these all products have a little bit of sweet stuff in them.
Excess sugar can negatively affect your body in many ways. Read here.
Here, we will discuss five natural substitutes of sugar that satisfy your sweet tooth.
Palmyra Blossom Nectar
Also known as the “Sugar of Life”, is pure and unrefined nectar of the Palmyra tree or Borassus Flabellifer. It’s loaded with high levels of B-complex vitamins, irons, magnesium, and potassium. By far, it’s the highest-ranking replacement of sugar, which puts date sugar into second place.
“Why it’s a good option: Palmyra Jaggery is a traditional ayurvedic ingredient that is nutrient-dense – 1 tablespoon provides 133% of daily vitamin B12 requirement, 222% of vitamin B6, 665% of your vitamin B1. It also has a glycaemic index of 40 making it less disruptive to blood sugar levels – by comparison, white sugar has a GI of 100 and no added nutritional benefit. Palmyra Jaggery is also organic, ethically sourced and sustainable business for the communities who farm it.” – source
Ground dates are the richest in antioxidants, high potassium concentration, making it an excellent natural sugar substitutes. Yet, we recommend using jaggery for weight loss that it’s not the best choice for those who are trying to keep their blood sugar low, as it still contains fructose.
Date sugar is less processed food than conventional sugar, hence it’s a bit healthier as it contains added nutrients. If you want to maintain the full nutrient density, you can opt for using the full date instead of the granulated sugar substitute.
Honey is a natural sweetener that contains more nutrients than table sugar, and it has minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. It is high in calories and naturally breaks down to glucose and fructose, so it does pose some of the same health risks.
So, it’s advised to add a spoon of honey in smoothies, baked goods, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings. You need to remember honey is sweeter than sugar, so you have to reduce the amount when you add.
Haven’t you drool over the famous “maple syrup pancakes” photos? Harvested from the maple trees, maple syrup is one of the most common examples of natural sugars, and very popular all around the world.
This syrup is one of the most natural and unprocessed forms of sugar and the majority of the chunk is produced here in the U.S. It is natural, and if you think of the processing, it goes through the boiling of the maple tree sap and is harvested with the aid of a spike.
Maple syrup can be used in different ways like in sweet and savory dishes. You just need to think beyond waffles and pancakes. Use it in healthier breakfast options and your oatmeals and mix it in your plain yogurt. Try it when you are baking – just make sure that you must reduce the number of liquids in the recipe.
Organic Coconut Sugar
We love all things coconut, right? It also includes coconut sugar. Coconut sugar comes from the nectar within the coconut blossoms which then naturally processes to evaporate the water from the sap. It allows the nectar to crystalize and make it a sweet thing to endeavor.
However, the consumption should be limited, as the fructose content of the coconut sugar is around 39% which is a downside. The bonus includes some of the antioxidants and a small amount of inulin fiber which greatly works as a prebiotic to promote your gut health.
Tips for reducing sugar in your diet
It’s always advised that you should try to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
- You can choose to drink water, low-fat milk instead of sugary sodas and drinks, or calorie-free beverages.
- Avoid processed desserts and fruit juices. Add fruit to cereal instead of buying sweetened cereal or adding table sugar.
- Choose lower-calorie, natural sugar foods, sugar-free hot chocolate drinks instead of candy.
- Choose unsweetened products like nut butter, or add flavors like vanilla, citrus, spices to flavor the drinks and foods.
The Bottom line
Consuming too much sugar has been linked to many diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart diseases. The sweeteners mentioned above are all good alternatives, though the keyword is – ‘alternatives’, these products should be used instead of refined sugar – and in moderation. Though these all sugar alternatives are healthy, or less harmful than regular sugar, yet they should be used in limitation.
As with most things in nutrition, moderation is key.
If you have any suggestions or feedback, drop a note in the comment section below.