The Many Alternatives To Refined Sugar
So we all know that sugar is rapidly becoming a dangerous drug, but when you are really craving something sweet...STOP! There are so many alternatives to sugar out there, that have great health benefits, don't give you that horrible sugar high that then leave you feeling terrible, and actually taste fantastic! Remember though, even though these options are healthier, eat them in moderation and try to vary them as much as possible.
Here are a few alternatives to sugar to try:
Xylitol comes from the bark of a silver birch tree and is gaining popularity after it's wide use in Scandinavia. Though we do not believe in calorie counting at HH, xylitol contains around 40% less calories than standard refined sugar. Due to a much lower content of fructose, it has a GI score of just 7 - GI measurements are done by rating them with a score between 0-100 with glucose being the highest at 100. A score of 7 for xylitol is therefore pretty good don't you think?
How to use Xylitol?
One of the recipes in our new cookbook Honestly Healthy for life
that uses xylitol is a delicious Orange and Almond Cake
with a juicy orange glaze.
Stevia is made from the leaves of the plant species stevia rebaudiana, which is a part of the sunflower family. It is made from the sweet leaf, of the stevia shrub native to Paraguay. Stevia has around 300 times the sweetness of sugar, and is ridiculously low in carbohydrates. Unlike many other sweeteners, it doesn't promote dental cavities or raise blood glucose levels. If you can source it, try to use green stevia
as it is made only from the leaves of the plant, whereas white stevia is a little more processed.
How to use Stevia?
Try adding it to hot drinks or dressings, but remember, a little goes a long way so not too much!
Agave syrup originates in Southern Mexico where Agave plants thrive in the volcanic soils. It's taste is comparable to honey, and similarly it contains natural fructose. It is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar itself. It has a low glycemic index (GI), yet unlike sugar, using agave does not result in the dangerous sugar rush that you get with refined sugar. Despite the amount of controversy over Agave syrup recently, our stand point is alway have everything in moderation - don't just rely on agave as your sugar alternative, and go organic where you can.
How to use Agave?
The consistency works brilliantly for baking - have a go of our Gooey Chocolate Brownie
recipe or some of our other treats.
Raw honey is the most original sweet liquid there is but as with other sweeteners, it should be consumed in moderation. Don't be conned that just because it is natural that you can have as much as you like. Honey has many health benefits and is an alkaline-forming food that contains natural vitamins, enzymes and powerful antioxidants. Make sure if you're buying honey that you always buy raw, as when honey is heated and pasteurised, its delicate aromas, yeast and enzymes which are responsible for activating vitamins and minerals within the body are partially destroyed.
How to use Raw Honey?
Honey has such a variety of uses. It's brilliant for the skin and can be used in the likes of our Avocado and Honey
face mask for fantastic skin protection and a brightness boost.
Alternatively, use it in your baking for the likes of our High Energy Sticky Seed Flapjacks!
Honey is also brilliant in dressings, and in hot drinks for that added sweetness.
Date Syrup -
Date syrup is a natural sweetener made from, not much more than some pureed dates so you could try making your own! Not only do dates have more potassium in them ounce for ounce than a banana, but date syrup has a brilliant treacly consistency which is fantastic for baking with. Particularly popular in the East due to the abundance of dates, it's hugely versatile in its uses and has a deep caramel like flavour.
How to use Date Syrup
? Try adding date syrup to tahini to make a deliciously healthy spread. Alternatively, date syrup goes really well with cinnamon and other Eastern spices so works really well with aromatic dishes and baking. Try our Orange and Aniseed Teacakes from our new cookbook Honestly Healthy for life
perfect afternoon tea treat.
Brown Rice Syrup
- Rice syrup is a sweetener derived by cooking rice with natural enzymes. It's another healthier alternative to refined sugar and contains vitamin B, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin K to name a few, in addition to being gluten and wheat free.
How to use Rice Syrup?
Try our amazing, Raw Coconut Fudge
treats. Deliciously Honestly Healthy...but consume in moderation of course!
Coconut Palm Sugar
- Coconut palm sugar is made from the sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut palm. It has a GI score of 50, so still much lower than sugar, and its also full of the minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Also, coconut palm sugar has slow energy releasing properties, which sustains the body through your daily activities without regular sugar “highs” and “lows”.
How to use Coconut Palm Sugar?
Coconut palm sugar can be used as a direct substitute to normal cane sugar, and as a result you can add it anywhere where you would normally use sugar, from using it in hot drinks, to adding it to baking. Try our beautiful Rosemary and Apple crumble
, or in the new book Honestly Healthy for Life,
our delicious Sesame Brittle is so easy to make and is indulgence at its best.
- Coconut nectar is not only delicious but it's also super good for you, too. It's 100% organic and enzymatically alive meaning it's also totally raw, vegan, fat-free, low glycemic, guilt free, non-GMO, and gluten free. WOW! As if that wasn't enough, it has so many brilliant uses!
How to use Coconut nectar?
Coconut nectar is a great addition to smoothies, adding that extra bit of sweetness. Try also adding it to porridge, or granola recipes.
Yacon Syrup -
Yacon syrup is a sweetening agent extracted from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant. It is thought to provide half the amount of sweetness to sugar without raising blood sugar levels. Yacon syrup has been known to promote weight loss due to suppressing the appetite. Also, it may promote healthy heart and liver function.
How to use Yacon Syrup?
Yacon can be used in baking recipes such as cookies as an alternative to sugar, or use in hot drinks. It has been argued that taking a teaspoon of yacon syrup before each meal could aid weightloss.
So there sure are a lot of alternatives out there that you can try while we have not even touched on the option of using fruit purees to sweeten your treats. To find out even more on which alternatives to sugar you should try, check out Tash's video.