Americans consume about 77 pounds of white sugar per person, every year! Is it any wonder that so many of us are over weight, unhealthy, and just feel generally bad? Sugar is hidden everywhere. This is why it is important to read food packaging labels. I am constantly surprised by where sugar is added, in foods you would never suspect. Once you begin looking for hidden sugar it becomes easier to avoid. This information leads you to make healthier choices.
White or refined sugar is known to be linked to obesity, diabetes, oxidative stress, and it decreases in our immune system function. It creates inflammation in our body tissues which can lead to joint and memory problems, and just generally make you feel unwell. Are you ready to switch to some healthier alternatives?
There are lots of times we would enjoy having something sweet. Are there alternatives to all this sugar? Yes, read through the list below, do some taste testing and decide which ones are for you.
White Sugar Substitutions
Extracted from the fruit of a cactus-like plant, this nectar is sweeter than sugar, so you may find you need to use less of it. Choose the least refined brand you can find (the darker the color, the better). Use 1/4 cup agave for every 1 cup sugar in recipes.
This is an old-fashioned favorite. It’s made from residue that’s left after sugar crystals are removed from beet juice or sugarcane. It contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—including B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
Brown rice syrup:
Created by fermenting rice grains, this delicately flavored, amber-colored sweetener has complex and simple sugars and some of the grain’s nutrients still intact. Use 11/2 cups rice syrup in place of 1 cup sugar. Reduce liquid in recipe by 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Coconut palm sugar:
This sweetener is the concentrated sap of palm tree blossoms that have been reduced down to a syrup and then sugar. It has a low glycemic index and high levels of micro-nutrients. It contains much less fructose than cane sugar. Coconut palm sugar can be substituted for white sugar in a one-to-one ratio. It’s less sweet than cane sugar but with more of a brown sugar flavor.
Made from pulverized dates, this sweetener offers the consistency of sugar but without being refined. Replaces sugar (including brown sugar) on a cup-for-cup basis.
Fruit juice concentrate:
This sweetener is cooked down fruit juices (typically grape, peach, pineapple, or pear), and is usually sold frozen. It contains the nutrients found in fresh fruit—except for fiber, which can help balance blood sugar. It works well in baked goods and desserts. Look for recipes that call for fruit juice concentrate as their sweetener of choice.
For centuries, this liquid gold has been both medicine and food. Sweeter than sugar, it also has more calories. But there are health benefits to honey, such as enzymes and minerals. Honey keeps baked goods fresher longer than other sweeteners, and consuming it won’t promote weight gain. Research has even shown it to have an “obesity protective” effect. Never give honey to a child under 12 months old. Substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cup honey for 1 cup sugar. Decrease other liquids by 1/4 cup for each 3/4 cup sweetener.
This sweet treat is made by boiling down the maple tree’s sap. It is the choice for pouring over pancakes, waffles or for flavoring baked beans. Maple syrup contains minerals such as calcium, potassium, and manganese. Use it as a topping over oatmeal or plain unsweetened yogurt. Maple syrup comes in various grades (Fancy, A, or B). Grade B is best for baking, as it adds the most flavor.
It tastes just like maple syrup. This powdered sweetener is made by dehydrating and crystallizing liquid maple syrup. It tastes about twice as sweet as white sugar.
One teaspoon of this herb has the sweetening power of two to four cups of sugar. It only takes a drop or two of the liquid form to sweeten foods and drinks. With zero calories, stevia also possesses medicinal effects such as lowering blood pressure. It can be tricky to bake with as it is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon stevia in place of one cup sugar. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons extra liquid. It does not work well for baking. Baked goods don’t brown when they’re made with stevia, so baking time may need to be adjusted.
A natural compound found in birch trees, corn fiber, and many fruits and vegetables, this sugar alcohol is popular in gums and candies. It’s also been shown to reduce bacteria and cavities while preventing plaque from adhering to tooth enamel. Xylitol contains 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. It has the same sweetness as sugar, so xylitol can easily replace it in cooking and baking. If consumed in large doses, it may cause gastrointestinal upset. Xylitol can be highly toxic—even fatal—for dogs that accidentally consume it.
Yacon powder or syrup:
This low-gycemic and low-caloric sweetener is derived from a South American root vegetable. A study of the syrup’s effects on obese volunteers with insulin resistance shows that yacon syrup promoted weight loss and suppressed appetite. It can be used in recipes that call for molasses as it has a similar taste.
My personal favorite sweetener is stevia. It is natural, and once you become accustomed to the taste, is really great. I use it daily in my coffee and tea. Xylitol is on the list because it is seen as natural. However, if it is toxic to animals it stands to reason it would not be really good for us either.
Here at RMB Naturals we have products to aid you in weight loss, and products to improve your nutrition. Stop in to check us out.