Quitting sugar isn't as simple as it sounds. Today, sugar is in nearly everything we consume, although we all know about the negative effects when over consuming. That's why we decided to provide you with 5 healthy sugar alternatives, that are easy to incorporate in you daily lifestyle while still providing you with that sweet taste.
#1 Raw Unfiltered Honey
Honey is most likely the most popular and recommended natural alternative to refined sugar. Not only does honey taste sweeter than sugar, due to its high fructose content, but it is also packed with vitamins and minerals contains powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (See below).
1. Provides Antibacterial Properties:
Raw Honey is antimicrobial and antibacterial and is a powerful ointment for healing wounds and infections.
2. Rich in Antioxidants:
Honey contains over 30 different polyphenols, 22 amino acid and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, which help your body fight against free radicals.
3. Helps lower Inflammation:
Pollen adds nutritional value with its fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Lowers inflammation, improves liver function and possible prevents heart disease.
Note: Keep in mind that not all honey is created equal. In fact, raw honey vs. store-bought honey in the bear-shaped bottle is very different.
Raw honey is harvest straight from the honeycomb and then strained to remove dirt, wax and other debris prior to being bottled. Raw honey skips the pasteurization or filtration process, hence its signature cloudy appearance.
On the other hand, regular/filtered honey is stripped from most of the beneficial byproducts that are naturally found in honey, including pollen, antioxidants and enzymes.
Therefore, when buying honey make sure to look out for the following two: RAW & UNFILTERED.
#2 Fresh Fruit
Fruit contains both fructose and glucose (two types of natural sugars) along with fiber, vitamins & minerals, phytochemicals, and water. Since fruit sugar comes along with fiber and water, your body takes longer to break it down. Sugar, on the other hand, is metabolized very quickly, leading to blood sugar spikes/imbalances, hormonal changes and cravings.
Furthermore, replacing refined sugar with fresh fruit will help with the following:
1. Increased fullness:
The fiber content in most fruits helps to slow down digestion, ultimately keeping your blood sugar levels balanced and leaving you feel more satiated and less hungry in between meals.
2. Improved digestion:
The water and fiber in fruit will work together to improve your digestion, keep things moving along regularly, and promoting healthy gut bacteria.
3. Weight Loss/Management:
Thanks to the fiber causing increased fullness and improved digestion, you’ll be feeling more regular, more satisfied, and more energized by eating fruit-sweetened foods. This should, over time, lead to weight loss if that’s your goal or keep you at a healthy weight.
So, if you are a sucker for baked goods or sugary desserts, try to fix your sweet tooth by preparing your own, healthier version. Fruits such as, Bananas, Apples, Berries, Mango, Avocados, Dates and Figs, as well as Raisins are sweet by nature and can be used in various recipes as a sugar substitute.
#3 Pure Maple Syrup
Unlike artificial table syrups that are limited to being used on pancakes, French toast and waffles, 100% pure Vermont maple syrup is delicious, healthful and an all natural sweetener that can be used in all your favorite recipes.
By replacing sugar with maple syrup in your cooking, the sweetness is still very much present. Maple syrup is around three times as sweet as regular sugar with fewer calories. Another interesting benefit to using maple syrup in cooking is that it has a low glycemic index, making it an ideal sweetener for those who suffer from diabetes.
Organic maple syrup is very nearly a super food, with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants already inside and sweet on top of all that. By choosing organic maple syrup, you are ensuring the purity of the product as well as the sustainability of the growing process the maple syrup comes from.
Note: Similarly to the honey example above, pay attention to the label when choosing your favorite maple syrup brand. Make sure the label says "pure" maple. You will start to notice the natural maple flavor in this special and hard-to-get sweet stuff.
#4 Raw Stevia
Stevia is growing in popularity as a plant based, calorie-free alternative to sugar. This natural sweetener is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, and is 250-300 times sweeter than regular sugar. Stevia leaves can be processed into liquid or powdered stevia extract.
Compared to regular table sugar, stevia contains little to no carbohydrates/calories and is ranked on the low end of the glycemic index, meaning it doesn't rapidly spike blood sugar levels. This makes stevia a great option for people who are diabetic or for those who love sweets, but want to reduce their caloric intake. Stevia can be used to sweeten cold or hot beverages, as well as, added to baking and dessert recipes.
Note: Most stevia products on the market do contain additional ingredients such as maltodextrin, sugar alcohols and natural flavors. If you want to avoid these ingredients, you should seek out products that list only 100% stevia extract on the label.
#5 Medjool Dates
If you’ve ever had a date, you know how incredibly sweet and delicious they are. Dates are an incredibly concentrated source of sugar but all packaged together with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants just as nature intended.
The easiest way to add to replace sugar with dates is by simply chopping and adding them straight into your dish. You can add them to oatmeal or salads for a touch of sweetness.
Another option is blending the dates into a liquid. This is great for sweetening baked goods or beverages like nut milk, lattes, hot chocolate, and smoothies. You can throw a few in your breakfast cereal or oatmeal or chop them up for a sweet addition to a salad.
On their own, dates make a great sweet snack, especially when a sugar craving hits. I find that a bite or two of a date hits the spot when I’m craving something sweet after a meal. You can eat them plain, stuff them with nut butter, feta, or even dark chocolate!
Note: Although dates do provide more nutrition and fiber compared to sugar, they are high in calories. If weight loss is your goal be mindful of the recommended serving size and don't overeat this delicious/dangerous natures candy.
We hope you enjoyed today's blog article. Stay tuned for next week and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to never miss another post from us.
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