Discover the Top 10 Natural Sweeteners And Their Health Benefits.
A sweetener is any substance, natural or artificial, that sweetens, That is, it serves to give a sweet taste to a food or product that otherwise has a bitter or unpleasant taste.
Among the sweeteners we find those with high caloric value, such as sugar or honey to mention a few, and those with low caloric value, which are used as substitutes for sugar. In both types, we find natural and artificial sweeteners.
But most low-calorie sweeteners are man-made. Sugar substitutes in general are referred to in this article.
The average citizen consumes 400 calories a day from added sugar And while consumption of refined sugar is increasing, so are artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, ACE K, and saccharin have been debated for years regarding their harmful side effects.
While all of these sweeteners are technically “safe,” according to the FDA, they are coming under increased scrutiny due to their side effects.
Side effects of artificial sweeteners range from headaches and migraines to shrunken thymus, impaired liver and kidney function, and mood disorders.
Refined sugars are also unhealthy. Side effects of refined sugars include diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and even poor cognitive function.
In recent years, corn growers and affiliated associations have promoted high fructose corn syrup as a natural sweetener. This simply is not true. The vast majority of HFCS is produced from genetically modified corn.
Fructose is a simple sugar that is rapidly metabolized by the liver and causes “high blood sugar.” This fast-acting sugar is believed to increase fat storage in the liver, leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, digestive disorders, and atherosclerosis.
Fortunately, there are natural sweeteners that are healthy and tasty alternatives to refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, substituting natural (healthy) sweeteners, which include choking molasses, maple syrup, and honey, can increase your antioxidant intake.
This study shows that replacing 130 grams a day of refined sugars (the average intake) with healthy alternative natural sweeteners can increase the number of antioxidants you consume each day, in amounts similar to the berries and nuts you consume.
• Raw honey (1 tablespoon – 64 calories)
• Stevia (0 calories)
• Dates (1 cup – 66 calories)
• Coconut sugar (1 tablespoon – 45 calories)
• Maple syrup (1 tablespoon – 52 calories)
• Black molasses (1 tablespoon – 47 calories)
• Balsamic glaze (1 tablespoon – 20-40 calories depending on thickness)
• Banana puree (1 cup – 200 calories)
• Brown rice syrup (1 tablespoon – 55 calories)
• Jam (varies depending on the fruit)
• Raw honey is a true superfood and one of my favorite natural sweeteners. It is packed with enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin. Together, these essential nutrients help neutralize free radicals while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
• A tablespoon of raw honey has 64 calories and has less impact on the glycemic load than a single banana. It is important to note that these are the benefits of raw honey. Once the honey has been pasteurized, it loses many of the health benefits that raw honey brings to the table.
• Look for local raw honey at farmers’ markets and directly from local beekeepers. The darker the honey, the richer the flavor and the greater the health benefits.
• First, don’t cook with raw honey. Drizzle on breakfast cereals, sprouted wheat toast, yogurt, and salad dressings.
• You want to keep as many nutrients in the honey as possible, so keep it away from heat. If you like honey in your tea or coffee, wait until the drink is warm enough to sip comfortably, then add honey to taste.
• Stevia is native to South America and has been used for hundreds of years in that region to support healthy blood sugar levels and lead to weight loss.
• Today, stevioside, the element in the leaves that makes it more than 200 times sweeter than sugar, is available in liquid drops, packets, soluble tablets, and baking mixes.
It has zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and none of the nasty side effects of artificial sweeteners, making it one of the best ideal natural sweeteners.
• Stevia is related to the sunflower, and some people experience a slight metallic aftertaste.
If that has been your experience with stevia in the past, try a brand that is higher in stevioside. Many find it to be sweeter, without a residual aftertaste.
•, Unlike raw honey, stevia is heat stable, so feel free to use it any way you like. Remember, it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, so don’t use it in the same ratio.
• For baking, this can present a problem, as refined sugar adds volume to recipes. However, this can be easily rectified. To make up for the volume lost when using stevia, use 1/3 to ½ cup of one of the following concentrating agents: fresh fruit puree, yogurt, roasted pumpkin, two beaten egg whites, or you can use 1-2 tablespoons of coconut flour.
• Consider adding coconut flour slowly as it absorbs a ton of moisture. If you are using a recipe that you have used in the past, make any necessary adjustments to get the consistency you expect.
• Dates are high in potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B6. From the date palm, they are easily digested and help metabolize protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
• Evidence shows that dates can help lower blood LDL cholesterol and can reduce the risk of stroke.
• The first step is to make a paste. Date paste can be used one-on-one in most recipes, unlike stevia, and adds bulk for baking. Soak dates in hot water until soft. If the water reaches room temperature and the dates are not soft enough, re-soak them in hot water.
• Reserve the soaking liquid, as it is essential to make a good paste. Add the soaked dates to your food processor, along with a tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. Add more water as needed to create a rich, thick paste.
• You are looking for the consistency of peanut butter. Use in your favorite cake or cookie recipe to eliminate refined sugar and increase nutrients. You can also use date paste to sweeten your favorite muffins and cakes.
• For fruit tarts, mix 1-1 ½ cups of puree with four cups of fruit and bake as usual. Depending on the water content of the fruit, you may need to add a thickener, such as tapioca.
• Most people have heard about the benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut flour, and of course fresh coconut. Now more and more people are using coconut sugar as the natural sweetener of choice due to its low glycemic load and rich mineral content.
• Packed with polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorus, and other phytonutrients, coconut sugar is versatile and now available. Coconut sugar is extracted from the sap of coconut flowers and then heated. Then through evaporation, we get coconut sugar.
• Use coconut sugar in your favorite recipes, as it measures like sugar. It’s a bit thicker than refined sugar, but it’s okay. Add the amount of sugar needed in a recipe to your food processor and spin until you get the desired texture.
• Or you can dissolve the coconut sugar in the liquids required in the recipe. However, dissolving sugar is not recommended when preparing a recipe that calls for “creamy” ingredients, such as cakes or cookies.
• You can even make a pastry sugar substitute pretty quickly. For each cup of coconut sugar, add a tablespoon of powdered arrowroot and blend until smooth in a clean coffee grinder or high-powered food processor. While this process will never result in white or silky sugar like commercially produced powdered sugar, it is a much healthier solution.
• Native to North America, maple syrup comes in Grades A and B. Although time-consuming, processing maple syrup requires only four steps: drilling the hole in the tree, hanging a bucket to catch the sap, boiling to evaporate the water, and then filter any sediment.
• Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and contains calcium, potassium, and zinc. Rich in antioxidants, this all-natural sweetener helps neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. Select darker grade B maple syrups as they contain more beneficial antioxidants than lighter syrups.
• Maple syrup is heat stable, so you can use it in just about any application. Add it to marinades, glazes, and baking sauces. Use it to sweeten homemade granola and your morning coffee or tea.
• For a cookie or cake frosting, heat to a simmer and add the coconut powdered sugar from above. Stir until smooth, cool to room temperature, then soak.
• Black molasses is highly nutritious, rich in copper, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, selenium, and vitamin B6. Sugarcane and beet molasses have the highest phenolic content and antioxidant activity compared to refined sugar, beet sugar, rapeseed honey, corn syrup, and dates.
• There are several types of molasses, depending on the level of processing you have gone through. All molasses is obtained from raw cane sugar, made by boiling it until it becomes a rich sweet syrup. Black molasses comes from the third boiling point, concentrating its nutrients and providing a rich and deep flavor.
• Molasses has a unique and rich flavor. It may not be attractive to some to use toast, porridge, or other concentrated applications. However, it is a perfect sweetener for marinades and baking.
• You can even make a brown sugar alternative by adding two tablespoons of molasses for every ½ cup of coconut sugar called for in the recipe. Put the coconut sugar and molasses in a food processor, and pulse until the consistency of commercial brown sugar is reached.
• Try gluten-free gingerbread cookies that are naturally sweetened with dates and shrimp molasses for a healthy alternative to store-bought cookies.
• Balsamic vinegar is rich in antioxidants that destroy free radicals, rich in the enzyme pepsin that helps promote healthy digestion, and tastes great. That is why it is included in my healing food diet.
• Balsamic glazes are available in health food and gourmet stores, but you can also quickly make your glaze at home. Simply simmer two cups of balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to half a cup.
• This process can take 15 to 30 minutes. It will thicken even more when it cools. Drizzle the glaze over grilled grilled salmon, raw cheese, or even fresh berries for natural sweetness and a little flavor.
• Bananas are high in fiber and potassium, and a good source of vitamins B6 and C. They are also naturally sweet with a subtle flavor, making them a perfect natural sweetener.
• First of all, overripe bananas is the best to replace refined sugars in recipes. They are sweeter and are well purified.
• For every cup of sugar called for in a recipe, use one cup of mashed banana. To puree, add bananas to a food processor with a tablespoon of water and mix. Add more water if necessary to reach the consistency of thick applesauce.
• Since bananas brown when exposed to air, use them as quickly as possible in recipes. If you are using banana puree in raw preparations, add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the food processor to help slow the oxidation process.
• Brown rice syrup starts with brown rice fermented with enzymes to break down starch. The liquid is heated until the consistency of the syrup is achieved. The result? A thick, amber-colored, sweet syrup perfect for recipes that call for corn syrup and other unhealthy sweeteners.
• The fermented process helps break down sugars into others that are easily digestible. The fermentation process is key – some brown rice syrups are fermented with barley enzymes, which means they contain gluten. Buy brown rice syrups labeled gluten-free.
• As mentioned above, brown rice syrup is the perfect replacement in recipes that call for corn syrup. Use a one-to-one relationship. To replace regularly processed white sugar, use one cup for every cup of sugar required and decrease the liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup.
• Use brown rice syrup to make healthy granola and granola bars, nut bunches, and sweeten fruit and nut cakes.
• The key here is the real fruit jam. Berries, stone fruits, apples, pears, and grapes are great replacements for sugar in recipes. You can use commercially available fruit jam; just make sure there is no added sugar or pectin. It is best to make your unsweetened jam with fresh or frozen organic fruit. It is easy and inexpensive.
• Replace sugar in recipes in a one-to-one ratio, decreasing liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup. Or, for recipes that don’t have added liquids, you can add a tablespoon of coconut flour to thicken the recipe as desired.
• To make your fresh jam, combine four cups of your favorite fruit or berries in a pot with ½ cup of water. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook over low heat until the fruit has broken down and has started to thicken. Puree in a food processor and use immediately.
• For a tasty apple pie, simmer 1/2 cup of diced peeled apples, with a cup of green grapes until soft. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Toss with sliced apples, a touch of cinnamon, and bake as directed. The grapes will add a subtle sweetness while the natural pectin in the apples will help thicken the cake.
Living healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets entirely; it just means you have to replace unhealthy refined sugars and artificial sweeteners with these natural sweeteners. Each of these has a better use, and some recipe modification will be necessary. Explore and find which natural sweeteners you like the best