Probably one of the worst ingredients in today’s modern diet is sugar, and it seems like it’s added to everything! Due to this, it is estimated that Americans take in 400 calories daily just from added sugars and many of these people probably consume more than they intend to. Like with anything, it’s crucial that you are aware of what you are putting into your body. While it’s sweet and tastes good, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and processed sugar can be toxic to your health and should be avoided at all costs. In fact, having a high sugar intake is associated with some of the most deadly diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
There is a long list of reasons why you should avoid consuming a high amount of sugar. Ditch the refined sugar by adding these top natural sweeteners to your daily diet today. Just remember the golden rule, moderation is key!
Maple Syrup/Maple Sugar
When we say maple syrup, we mean pure, organic maple syrup. We are not referring to the processed syrup that is flavored with maple (i.e., pancake syrup), but the real deal. Real maple syrup is heat stable, high in antioxidants, and contains zinc, manganese, potassium, and calcium. Coming in two different grades, maple syrup helps reduce oxidative damage and helps neutralize free radicals. Also, if you aren’t a fan of the liquid, or want something easier and less messy for baking, try maple sugar.
Pure honey is not just a sweetener. It’s also considered to be food. This commonly used sweetener is more than just sweet, as it contains antimicrobial compounds, electrolytes, antioxidants, and amino acids. A true superfood, honey is packed with niacin, iron, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, and vitamin B6. Plus, if you have severe allergies, using local honey can help your body adapt to the local pollen. If you can, use raw honey since it contains more nutrients, just don’t cook with it!
Coconut Palm Nectar/Coconut Sugar
Coconuts indeed are wonderful and versatile, and very nutritious! Many of us know the benefits of coconut milk, coconut flesh, coconut flour, and coconut water. Now many are hopping aboard and are using coconut nectar/sugar, which is extracted from the blooms of the coconut, because of its rich mineral content and low glycemic index. Luckily, coconut sugar has become readily available, as it’s packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, phosphorous, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and polyphenols.
While blackstrap molasses has a unique, deep rich flavor and may not be appealing (for some) for sweetening a beverage or for topping toast, many love using it in baked goods. A true cane sugar that is not refined, blackstrap molasses is highly nutritious, packed full of antioxidants, and has a high phenolic content. Blackstrap molasses contains less sugar than regular cane sugar and is also very high in vitamin B6, zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, selenium, calcium, manganese, and potassium.
Using fruit as a natural sweetener is an excellent way to experience their delicious potential in a new light. Using bananas (overripe in particular), apples, grapes, berries, pears, and stone fruits are a great way to sweeten any dish naturally. When used in recipes, fruit jam made with organic fresh fruit and banana puree is an excellent alternative to sugar and adds an extra dose of nutrients to your dish or beverage. Even for that cup of tea, you can mix in a bit of fresh juice, how well does matcha tea and cherry juice sound?
Dates are unbelievably sweet, yet delicious, so they are perfect to use as an alternative to standard table sugar. Dates are pretty unbelievable (and delicious); they help the body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Also, dates are loaded with vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, as well as copper. The body can easily digest dates, so don’t be afraid to try it! You can use dates in one of two ways, by making a paste out of the dates (soaking and blending the dates) or by purchasing date sugar.