Sugar is one of the biggest culprits that impacts your health in many negative ways. Believe it or not, sugar is blamed for everything from obesity to mental health disorders to gut health problems. Refined or processed sugar directly affects your heart health and cholesterol levels. This is why doctors suggest cutting down on sugar consumption for all heart patients. Sugar can also be detrimental to your dental health and affect your chances of getting cavities.
If you have a sweet tooth but are strictly advised by your doctor not to consume sugar, fret not. Many healthy and natural alternatives to sugar can fulfill all your sweet cravings. You can add them to your daily diet after having a word with your doctor. Here are the top sugar alternatives that do not harm your health.
Fruits are natural sweeteners. If you want to consume them to satiate your sugar cravings, make a fruit puree. Fruit puree such as applesauce is one of the best ways to reduce your refined sugar intake. You can swap sugar for this ingredient in your favorite cookies, bread, and muffin and enjoy a lip-smacking flavor.
Swapping sugar for fruit purees works best in baked goods that already have a fruit ingredient, such as banana muffins. Healthfully says, “Matching the flavor of the fruit from which the puree comes is the best way to add the puree to a recipe.” One cup of fruit puree equals about two tablespoons of sugar. You’ll also want to reduce the liquid in the recipe by about a quarter cup, because fruit purees contain water in them.
All fruits comprise many health benefits because of their high nutritional value. Fruit purees also taste well to your taste buds. You’ll enjoy great flavour as well as the health benefits of reduced sugar and increased vitamins and nutrients.
Yacon syrup is touted as another healthy sugar alternative to fulfill your sweet cravings. It is extracted from the yacon plant, native to South America. The taste of this product is thick and sweet.
Coming to its health benefits, Yacon syrup is rich in fructooligosaccharides. Although it is less sweet than table sugar, it is a healthy alternative to the latter. Moreover, the composition of this syrup acts as a prebiotic, meaning it’s good for your gut health.
Honey is one of the most common sugar alternatives you can use in many recipes and reduce sugar cravings without harming your health. Honeybees produce this thick golden liquid. Honey has many vitamins and minerals. It also includes an abundance of plant compounds having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
All the health benefits of honey make it a go-to ingredient. The versatile nature of this product makes it easy for you to use in your recipes. Whether it is milk, cake, waffles, bread, and other dishes, adding honey to them will make the recipe more delicious. However, honey tends to be high in calories.
Honey is actually sweeter than sugar, so you’ll want to use less honey than sugar in a recipe. A rule of thumb is to use about 3/4 cup sugar in your baking for every 1 cup of sugar required by the recipe. The Happy Hive also recommends adding a bit more baking soda and less liquids to your recipe.
When it comes to honey v. maple syrup, the latter is lower in calories. This factor makes maple syrup one of the best options to consume in place of sugar. Maple syrup is a thick sugary liquid made by cooking the sap of maple trees.
Maple syrup boasts many nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, minerals, zinc, manganese, etc. Maple syrup is also rich in phenolic compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on your body.
Considering the many health benefits of maple syrup, several brands and manufacturers have started selling it in different forms. Canadian maple syrup is a go-to alternative for many health-conscious people, and it is a good idea to try it.
Like honey, you’ll need less maple syrup than sugar in a recipe and will want to reduce the liquids in a recipe.
Molasses refers to a sweet brown liquid that has a thick and syrup-like consistency. It is made using sugar cane or sugar beet juice when these ingredients are boiled at high temperatures. Molasses is a great alternative to refined sugar as it tastes amazing and offers various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Like sugar, the consumption of molasses doesn’t harm your health. You can include this ingredient in your daily diet if taken in moderation. Molasses does tend to have a stronger taste than the other sugar substitutes on this list, so your kids may not like it as much as other options.
Molasses is less sweet than sugar, so you’ll want to use about 1 1/3 cups of molasses for every cup of sugar in the recipe. Just like honey and maple syrup, though, you’ll want to reduce the liquid and add some baking soda. You can also use half white sugar and half molasses in recipes that call for brown sugar.
Your Taste Buds Will Adjust
Many foods in our North American diet contain sugar, so we are used to eating extra sweet foods. It may take some time to adjust to the taste of foods with less sugar, but if you persist, you’ll find that you need less sugar in your food. I grew up on a very low-sugar diet; my mom actually made most of our food at home, including jam, bread and baked goods, canned fruit, and more, with little or no sugar in them.
Once when I was hanging out with my best friend, we made peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch. I was used to natural peanut butter and my mom’s homemade, sugar-free jam. I couldn’t believe how sweet my friend’s store-bought peanut butter and jam sandwiches were! It was almost disgusting to me. While my kids don’t eat the same sugar-free diet that I did as a child, I do try to be aware of the sugar we consume and limit it when I can—or use healthy sugar alternatives like those on the list above.
Do not feel bad if you cannot consume sugar in your favorite desserts. Replacing it with the above-listed ingredients will ensure that the taste is not compromised and your health is not affected. We still recommend consuming these alternatives in moderation.
If you have any questions about your health and your sugar consumption, talk to your doctor and dentist about it. If you’re looking for a new care provider, an internet search for phrases like “dentist near me Tarzana“ should produce a list of options that you can reach out to.
What is your favourite sugar alternative?