I used to be a sugar junky, riding the sugar rollercoaster. I sought out the corners of the cake which had more icing, put two teaspoons of sugar in my morning coffee, and drank sugary iced tea every afternoon. I rode out the sugar highs and ensuing lows, feeling lethargic every afternoon, seeking more sugar to boost me up!
Becoming a nutritionist made me examine this love affair, because I now know sugar promotes inflammation, lowers immunity and promotes disease. I feel so much better for reducing and replacing sugar, do not suffer the after-lunch-slump I used to experience and have even lost a few pounds!
I have lowered my white sugar consumption dramatically, eschewing artificial sweeteners and replacing it with natural alternatives which have some of their own health benefits. Now, doing so does not allow my consumption of sweets to continue at its former pace because even healthier alternatives can lower immunity. These are my favorite sugar replacements.
Honey is such romantic food, nectar collected by thousands of bees and refined into the honey we know. It contains small amounts of minerals, amino acids and vitamins. Sweeter than table sugar, it can be substituted for sugar in baking or cooking at a ratio of about 1 cup of sugar to 2/3 or ¾ cup honey. Ensure you are purchasing pure honey and remember it cannot be consumed by children under the age of one.
Maple syrup is high in manganese, riboflavin and zinc. Some studies have shown that it does not cause the same insulin spike as sugar. It is my first choice for Sunday morning pancakes. As it is expensive, I do not use it in baking, but may substitute it into sauces and marinades.
Coconut Palm Sugar
This is an amazing sugar replacement! High in potassium, nitrogen and a source of iron, this sweetener is an up-and-comer. Its taste and appearance is similar to brown sugar and can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio with white or brown sugar. It can be found in any health food store and I recently found it at Costco.
High in potassium, magnesium and fibre, dates are a great whole food alternative to white sugar. Dates are a staple in the raw food movement, used in brownies, truffles, cakes and puddings. They can be added to smoothies or oatmeal instead of other sweeteners. There are date “sugars” on the market which I have yet to try.
You will note agave is missing from my list of alternative sweeteners. It is a highly refined product and lacks the nutrient profile of the above sweeteners.
I hope you will add these sweeteners to your grocery list and find your own ways to reduce and replace refined sugar in your diet!