Do you want to choose healthier alternatives to refined sugars? The natural sweeteners below can provide a tastier and healthier alternatives to sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Whether you have diabetes or at risk for developing the disease, you can try incorporating natural sweeteners into your diet.
1. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm. It has gained a lot of attention in recent years, due to the results of initial studies, which show that it may have a lower glycemic index compared to refined sugars. This helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels, which is known to interfere with diabetes management and also plays a major role in weight management.
To get the sugar, the sap is boiled down into a thick syrup, then dried and ground into a powder that has a flavor which is quite similar to caramel. The sugar result, retains mosy of the healthful properties of coconut, which includes nutrients such as zinc, iron, potassium and calcium.
2. Date Sugar
Coconut sugar comes from sap, while date sugar comes from the fruit itself. It is the fruit itself, which is dried and finely ground. This means that it has the same amount of fiber as the whole fruit and the nutrients such as iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Since it is a finely powdered fruit, it does not dissolve well in liquids such as tea and coffee. But it can also be added to other foods and serve as a substitute at a 1:1 ratio in recipes that needs brown sugar.
Molasses is a by-product of the white-sugar-refining process, but it contains all the vitamins and nutrients that are removed as sugar cane is refined. These includes high levels of calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium and B vitamins. Molasses is considered to be the most nutrient-rich, natural sweetener.
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees, mostly sugar maples. The sap is boiled, to make a thick, amber liquid, that is full of potassium, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, iron, vitamins B2, B5, B6, biotin, niacin and folic acid.
Maple syrup contains 70% sugar and about 50 calories per tablespoon, which is less than corn syrup, which contains about 60 calories per tablespoon. You should choose the darker, grade B syrup as compared to the lighter grade A commonly used over pancakes, to maximize your intake of vitamins and nutrients. You can also purchase maple sugar, which is formed when the liquid in maple syrup evaporates.
5. Raw Honey
Raw honey is a good sugar substitute for diabetics, most especially the darker varieties. This includes buckwheat, which contains strong anti-bacterial properties and antioxidants that help in fighting cell-damaging free radicals.
Also raw honey can be easily used by the body. Researches have noted that consumption of honey can help improve athletic performance, as compared to other carbohydrate sources.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, found in foods such as berries, beets and corn. Its tastes is almost as sweet as sugar, but is only partially absorbed by the body. Therefore, it has a lower glycemic index and has about nine calories per teaspoon.
You can use it as a substitute for sugar in small amounts in coffee or tea. If you are using it it for baking, it is recommended that use only half of the sugar needed for in a recipe.