If you have a sweet tooth, eating healthily can be challenging. Everything from sodas to desserts and process foods contains unhealthy sugars. Sugar increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes among being linked to a variety of other health conditions.
Thankfully, there are a ton of sugar substitutes you can use to decrease your sugar intake and still enjoy the sweeter things in life. Sugar substitutes can come from both natural sources and artificial sweeteners. Here are some healthier alternatives.
Agave Nectar is one of the more popular natural sugar alternatives. It is low on the glycemic index; however, it has a ton of fructose. If you eat sweets frequently, this may not be the best alternative as the fructose levels can cause weight gain. It’s also not a good option for diabetics as it can increase insulin resistance.
Coconut Sugar has the same amount of calories as sugar, but it is unrefined. Since it is unrefined, the vitamins and minerals are still present, unlike sugar. It can be used as a one-to-one replacement to sugar or brown sugar.
Honey is another excellent alternative to sugar as raw honey contains less fructose – and it’s the only natural sweetener that offers additional health benefits. Honey has benefits that are healthy for your heart and contains anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Other natural sweeteners such as date paste and monk fruit extract can also be used. Be careful with monk fruit extract though as buying it off the shelf can be just as bad for you as sugar and can contain hidden sugars like sugar alcohols. Date paste can be made at home from pitted dates.
There are quite a few artificial sweeteners on the market that utilize stevia. Stevia is a plant-based extract that does not contain any calories; therefore it is a good choice for those wanting to lose weight and diabetics. Pure Via, Truvia, and Rebiana are all stevia sweeteners you can buy at any local grocer.
Splenda utilizes sucralose to get the sweet without the calories. It is a great choice for baking as sucralose is heat-stable and there are a number of varieties available for different applications. It is much sweeter than sugar so you may need to experiment a bit to find the right amount for substitution.
Birch sugar, also known as xylitol utilizes sugar alcohols and is normally 25-100% as sweet as sugar. Sugar alcohols are lower in calories although they still have an effect on blood sugar levels. Due to its granular form, it makes an excellent substitute to use for cooking, baking and topping off your favorite cereal.