In this blog post, we shared some Healthier Sugar Alternatives that you should try. Before the start, let’s discuss how sugar affects your health.
How Sugar Affects Your Health
The health benefits of reducing our sugar intake may be incalculable. High sugar intake has been linked to a wide range of health conditions, either directly through its effect on the body or indirectly due to complications from obesity. Complications include:
- Tooth decay and cavities
- Type 2 diabetes
- Malnutrition or poor nutrition
- High triglyceride levels
- Low HDL (“good cholesterol”), which is a risk factor for heart disease
In addition, certain types of cancers may be linked to obesity and poor nutrition.
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Healthier Sugar Alternatives you should try
There are so many sugar alternatives on the market these days that it can be a chore to simply decide among them, let alone figure out how to use them in your day-to-day diet. One critical factor in your decision should be your reason for reducing sugar. If someone is diabetic, for instance, artificial sweeteners are a better choice than sugar alcohols like xylitol, or natural sweeteners like honey, which can still raise blood sugar, though to a lesser extent. Always consult with a doctor if you are not sure of your best option.
History lesson time: The Aztecs used agave thousands of years ago and praised this syrup as a gift from gods. A derivative of the same plant as tequila (cheers!), this golden sweetener tastes similar to honey and is perfect in hot or iced tea. But be sure to use in moderation—agave’s high fructose content can sometimes cross it in to the dangerfood zone!
The benefits of maple syrup are aplenty: It comes directly from a plant’s sap and contains over 50 antioxidants. Make sure to grab the real stuff (sorry, Aunt Jemima) and spread it over waffles or use it in homemade granola.
Fans of gin can skip the extra sugar in a Tom Collins and add an extra lemon squeeze—we promise no one will notice.
Thanks to bees, this scrumptious stuff packs an antioxidant punch. Enjoy some in hot tea to help soothe a scratchy throat, or get creative and add a spoonful to homemade salad dressing.
Instead of a half-cup white sugar in a batch of oatmeal cookies, swap in an equal amount of applesauce! The natural sweetness from a Golden Delicious or Fuji apple is perfect in an after-dinner treat. Purchase the no sugar-added kind, or make some at home.
This sugar alcohol is practically a guilt-free sweet solution. (And the FDA says it’s safe!) At 0.2 calories per gram, the white powder from a plant occurs naturally in many fruits. Plus, it doesn’t lead to tooth decay and other not-so-sweet effects of sugar consumption. It’s not quite as sweet as natural sugar, so try it in chocolate baked goods like brownies.
For a creative spin on things, blend a cup of raisins in a food processer. With antioxidants and fiber, these little dried grapes add a kick to any baked good.
Spice up a morning cup of coffee with cinnamon. This super spice adds subtle sweetness while boosting immunity, no calories included.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
For a warm winter treat, mix some unsweetened cocoa powder in a glass of hot water or skim milk. It’ll satisfy that sweet tooth without all the extra sugar the sweetened version includes. Add a splash of vanilla extract for extra flavor!
Hailing from South America, this natural extract comes from the stevia plant and is recognized by the FDA as safe. It only takes a drop or two to sweeten a bowl of oatmeal.
Skip the cup of sugar and add cranberries to a batch of muffins or scones. These little tart treats add a dose of antioxidants refined sugar can’t offer.
Grab a bunch of dates for an extra boost of antioxidants in the next baking experiment . With a low glycemic index and some subtle sweetness, it may be perfect for brownie batter or the base of homemade granola bars . Substitute two-thirds cup for one cup of regular sugar.
For a daily dose of vitamin C, opt for grapefruit juice in a cocktail over soda or tonic water. It’ll add a sweet and sour kick to any beverage.
Get a little tropical and use coconut sugar in a fruit smoothie. Made from the sap of coconut flowers, this natural sugar comes in block, paste, or granulated form. Plus, it’s loaded with potassium, which helps keep our bones strong.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup comes from (you guessed it!) brown rice. More nutritious than its high-fructose alternative, this buttery and nutty flavored syrup is perfect in granola bars and baked breads.
This sweet treat’s made from sugar cane but skips the refining stage, so it retains vitamins and minerals lost when white sugar is processed. Keep the one-to-one ratio when swapping rapadura for sugar in baked goods.
Make juice boxes a thing of the past and spice up a glass of sparkling water with a squeeze of lime. The tart and tang will keep taste buds satisfied without the extra sugar rush.
In the next loaf of banana bread, try using extra-ripe bananas and eliminating the sugar. The fruit naturally becomes sweeter as it ripens, so there’s no need for extra sugar .
The natural sugar in milk adds a touch of sweetness to that morning cup of Joe, so think twice before adding a teaspoon or two of sugar. The lactose in milk may do the trick.
Frozen Juice Concentrate
Use apple juice concentrate in homemade apple pie. With additional fiber and antioxidants, the pie will be a sweet solution for a nutritious dessert!
Barley Malt Extract
Derived from barley, this protein-packed syrup is perfect in a pecan or pumpkin pie. The dark syrup’s similar to molasses and will enhance the flavor of any baked treat.
Introducing sugar in its most natural state! Sucanat is a sneaky acronym that stands for SUgar CAne NATural. This sweetener is made from organic cane sugar and packs in some nutrients white sugar lacks.
Apricots are a nutritional A+ with vitamin C, fiber, and iron. Make some of the sweet stuff right at home and mix it in plain Greek yogurt or enjoy it with hearty whole-grain bread.
Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice
In a batch of homemade bread, swap out the sugar for fresh orange juice. Looking for a cool treat? Freeze some juice in an ice-pop mold rather than buying what’s in the freezer section.
Health up that next large glass of fruit juice with some club soda—even a simple three-to-one juice to club soda ratio saves some major sugar calories.
Alcohol ain’t just for drinking—caramelize a few slices of pineapple in rum and add them to pancakes or unsweetened yogurt. Now that’s a fancy way to stay sweet!
Fruity or earthy leaves like pomegranate and green tea are naturally sugar-free and add an extra nutritional kick to any beverage. Use them in liquor for a surprising healthy twist.
What happens when sugar cane, grapes, and beets get together? Molasses! Use this dark syrup in a recipe for gingerbread cookies. It’ll add some extra iron and calcium, which makes the cookies healthy, right?
Ditch the Funfetti frosting and add a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze to angel food cake. Simply simmer balsamic vinegar until it forms a thick syrup.
A sweetening agent extracted from the yacón plant, this molasses-y syrup has hints of apple and just half the calories of cane sugar. It’s sweet just like honey, so a little goes a long way in baked goods and raw fruit smoothies.
Tips for Reducing Sugar
Although not always easy, here are some ways that you can reduce the sugar in your diet on a daily basis.
sugar freepreserves to sweeten plain yogurtinstead of eating already sweetened yogurtwith fruit in it
- Substitute healthy whole fruits for sweetened, processed desserts
- Put fruit on your cereal instead of adding sugar or eating a sweetened cereal
- Instead of a chocolate bar, try a lower-calorie, sugar-free hot chocolate drink
- Snack on dried fruit or trail mix, instead of candy
- Buy unsweetened versions of applesauce, nut
butters, non-dairy milk and other products that can hide added sugars
flavorslike vanilla, spices, or citrus to add a kick (and the illusion of sweetness) to your tea, coffee, and even oatmeal