Sugar is one of the most demonized ingredients ever – and for a good reason, too. It is linked to a myriad of diseases and health conditions. But it’s also a part of everyday life and it is kind of hard not to eat anything sweet, ever. Who doesn’t love homemade cakes and cookies? You can’t make those without any sugar. Luckily for us, there are several ingredients you can use instead of sugar.
But first, let us differentiate between artificial sugar substitutes and natural sugar substitutes. Even though artificial substitutes contain a trivial number of calories and don’t raise your blood sugar, which makes them diabetes-friendly as well as suitable if you want to lose weight, they are almost pure chemistry, filled with chemical compounds that can seriously damage your health. Some of them are even cancerogenic. In lots of ways, they are worse than regular white sugar. You do not want to mess with something that’s worse than sugar.
Natural sugar substitutes are what I’m talking about. Even though some of them are not perfect, all of them are superior to sugar and any artificial substitute.
The king of sweet. There is practically nothing you can hold against honey. Its positive effects have been known for ages. It’s great for your immune and digestive system and what’s most important, it tastes great! Just make sure that you buy it from the farmer’s market or from someone you know. There is a big difference between raw honey and industrially made honey. Of course, don’t overdo it. As healthy as it is, honey still contains calories and can lead to obesity, if abused.
Stevia is a plant that grows in South America. Even Aztecs knew of its benefits. One insane fact about stevia is that it’s 40 times sweeter than sugar. Can you even begin to comprehend what it means when something is 40 times sweeter than sugar? Now that’s some serious power. What’s even crazier, stevia has practically 0 calories and won’t raise your blood sugar, which makes it perfect for people with diabetes. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste but hey, there’s no such thing as a free lunch –or so I’m told. When you buy stevia (it can be liquid or powdered) make sure that nothing else is added to it.
Widely recognized as a delicious gift from nature, maple syrup goes well with all sorts of pancakes and waffles. It can also be used in baking instead of sugar. Granted, it might compromise the original consistency of a cake, but the cake will still taste great. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use it to sweeten your coffee or tea as well.
Date sugar is nothing but dried dates ground into a powder. It doesn’t melt, so it’s not really appropriate as a coffee sweetener (unless you want to chew your coffee, which doesn’t sound bad at all) but it works great as a sugar substitute in baking since it won’t affect the consistency of anything you bake.
Used for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, this low-glycemic ingredient is a perfect substitute for baking. It tastes similar to brown sugar, with just a hint of caramel. Any brownie baked with it has to taste good. Some say it’s not sweet enough to be used as a coffee sweetener, but luckily, you have other sugar substitutes for that.
All of those substitutes are healthier and tastier than sugar. Give them a chance!