Refined sugar has a bad rap for a variety of health reasons, which has caused people to turn to alternatives to keep them satisfied.
But because people are becoming more aware of the dangers of too much of it, they’ve turned to sugar-free soda, sugar-free gum, artificial sweeteners and more to ensure they take advantage of “healthier” substitutes for the sweetener. But confirmations keep coming in that these options are bad for health in their own ways — some even worse than the real deal. Not sure where to turn to next? Check out these healthy sugar substitutes to ensure you steer clear of the bad stuff while still satisfying your sweet tooth.
- Raw Honey
This all-natural sugar alternative contains antibacterial properties that can prevent infections. It pairs well with almost anything, making it extremely versatile for your sweetening needs, whether it be a beverage or a meal. Honey also has a variety of vitamins and minerals, and its molecular structure makes it easy for the body to process, since it is similar to glucose. Research has also found that people who ate honey rather than sugar showed a reduction in their body weight and fat.
- Coconut Sugar
Unlike table sugar, coconut sugar contains a plethora of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. With a taste reminiscent of brown sugar, it’s an easy switch you’ll enjoy. It also has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar, so your blood sugar and insulin levels will stay steadier when you opt for this alternative.
- Pure Organic Maple Syrup
So long as it’s not packaged in a bottle with corn syrup, organic maple syrup is a great natural option for sweetener. If it’s 100 percent maple syrup, it contains up to 54 antioxidant compounds, can aid in fighting off cancer, improve your skin, keep bloating at bay and more. Real maple syrup is simply evaporated maple tree sap, and provides you with a great source of manganese — necessary for many enzymes that are required for energy production and antioxidant defenses — and zinc — essential for keeping your immune system strong.
Made when the sugar cane plant is processed to make refined sugar, this thick syrup has a variety of health benefits. Just two tablespoons provides you with about 30 percent of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women, and 14 percent of your RDV of copper, which supports healthy hair and skin. It’s also a great source of vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants. When purchasing, be sure to opt for unsulfured, organic sugar cane molasses.
- Date Sugar
Date sugar, which is dried dates that have been pulverized into a powder, makes for a great baking additive when dessert is calling your name. Be mindful, however, that date sugar cannot be used as a direct substitute for sugar as it does not melt. When using it for baking, be mindful that less is more with this alternative to refined sugar, since it is naturally very sweet! Researchers from Virginia Tech’s Biochemistry Department ranked 12 of the most popular sweeteners according to their antioxidant content, and found that date sugar came in at number one!