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Healthy Substitutes for White Sugar

Updated: Feb 15

  • It is sugar in various forms that is the main culprit for the appearance of diabetes, obesity, and many other cardiovascular diseases. Not to mention tooth decay and sugar addiction, to which children as well as adults are exposed. You have probably read more than once about whether and how much sugar is bad for our health. This substance does not have any vitamins or minerals, just an intoxicating sweet taste that excites our receptors in the brain, creating a false feeling of satiety. In short, it's about empty calories. We certainly distinguish between bad sugars and those that we need in order to have enough energy to endure a hard day or training. Bad sugars are bad because our body doesn't recognize them as energy and stores them as fat around the waist. You can be lucky that your metabolism works faster and uses more energy, but the fact remains that the body has more places to store all that energy than to use it up from all the sugar it has ingested. This is just one bad characteristic of sugar, from which many others arise, again, not at all favorable for our body.

What is it about sugar that spoils us?

  • Sugar is composed of glucose and fructose. Glucose is needed in order for our cells to develop, while fructose is stored in the liver and taken as needed. This principle refers to the average amounts of healthy sugars that are taken in, and any increased intake that we take in from sweets and juices, encourages the liver to turn the excess sugar into fat.

What is it about sugar that spoils us?

  • Sugar is composed of glucose and fructose. Glucose is needed in order for our cells to develop, while fructose is stored in the liver and taken as needed. This principle refers to the average amounts of healthy sugars that are taken in, and any increased intake that we take in from sweets and juices, encourages the liver to turn the excess sugar into fat.

Why choose natural sugar substitutes?

  • Although there is no study that proves that consuming artificial sugars is good for our body, there is still a debate about how healthy it is to use something that is obtained artificially. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic substitutes for sugar and have no caloric value. Since they do not even have a complete taste, they mix with each other, which is why they should not be used in large quantities. The most famous artificial sweeteners are saccharin and aspartame. Sugar creates a food addiction by releasing a large amount of dopamine in the brain.

If you don't want to completely give up sweets, but something must still be found in cakes, then these 8 varieties of natural sugar substitutes will come in handy.


Stevia

  • This South American plant is the best natural sweetener, and has been cultivated for more than 1,500 years. The natives called it the sweet honey plant, but despite its obvious beneficial effect, stevia was only allowed for use in the USA in 2008, and in Serbia only in 2011. Stevia is claimed to regulate blood sugar, does not raise glucose levels, so it is suitable for diabetics. What's important to know is that stevia is much sweeter than regular sugar, which is why even small amounts last longer. It is also claimed to be an excellent dietary supplement for those suffering from candida or simply taking care of their body.

How is stevia used?

  • You can use stevia extract to sweeten various desserts, from puddings to cakes, as well as various drinks. Depending on how sweet you like something, add more stevia. Be sure to read the declaration and check if it is a pure stevia, and you can also find powdered stevia. One cup of sugar equals one teaspoon of stevia.

Honey

  • Honey is an splendid substitute for sugar because in a completely natural form it has the much-needed glucose that is beneficial to the human body. It contains slightly fewer vitamins, but is rich in antioxidants. A spoonful of honey has 65 calories, which is why it's great to eat honey after hard physical work.

How is honey used?

  • Of course, honey should also be taken in reasonable measures, because despite its nutritional properties, it is still a type of sugar. If you use honey as a substitute for sugar in cake recipes, be sure to reduce the liquid part by three spoons, add a little baking powder and bake at 25 degrees less. When you use honey in processed food, it loses its healing properties. Unfortunately, the same applies to putting it in coffee or tea. If you don't care about vitamins but only about taste, then honey is the right choice. Otherwise, use pure and raw honey to get all that it has to offer. One cup of sugar equals 1/4 cup of honey.

Agave nectar

  • Agave syrup or nectar is produced in Mexico and is obtained from the blue agave plant. Agave nectar is slightly sweeter than regular sugar and has 60 calories per tablespoon. It is a relatively new product that has not been fully researched, and its nutritional characteristics have not yet shown results. Agave nectar is most recommended for diabetics because it has a low glycemic index.

How to use agave syrup?

  • It can be used as a topping for pancakes and fruit salads. The Aztecs used agave syrup mixed with salt as a salve for wounds and skin infections, which is still often used today in Central America as a folk traditional medicine. Agave syrup does not contain starch, so it is suitable for use by people who are intolerant to gluten. It contains fiber, so it affects the better functioning of the digestive system.

Maple syrup

  • This syrup is also a natural sweetener obtained from the resin of special types of maple trees. It has 52 calories per tablespoon, and unlike the one used for pancakes, real maple syrup contains more manganese, riboflavin (vitamin B2), zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. One cup of sugar equals 3/4 cup of syrup.

How is maple syrup used?

  • In addition to providing an exceptional flavor to dishes, maple syrup also has multiple nutritional properties. If you want to replace the sugar in the recipe with maple syrup, you need to reduce the liquid part of the recipe by three tablespoons and add 1/4 baking powder for every quarter cup of syrup. If you are baking or cooking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. It is an excellent addition to recipes for energy bread or morning oatmeal.

Coconut sugar

  • Coconut sugar or palm sugar is a relatively unknown product in these areas, and it is obtained from coconut resin. It contains zinc and calcium, as well as antioxidants, which makes it a splendid substitute for sugar. It has a low glycemic index, lower than sugar. Diabetics can use it as a sweetener, but with the same caution as with any other sugar. What is important is that coconut sugar is the most similar to regular sugar, yet it is healthier. However, like agave syrup, coconut sugar has a lot of calories as well as fructose, which is why it should not be used in large quantities.

How to use coconut sugar?

  • It is an ideal addition to all smoothie juices, various desserts as well as oatmeal. In cooking, it is used to soften spicy dishes.

Molasses

  • Molasses is a thick, dark syrup obtained by boiling sugar cane. It contains vitamins and minerals, and a teaspoon of molasses provides ten percent of the daily recommended amount of copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Molasses is still very close to sugar, so it should not be used daily in the diet.

How to use molasses?

  • Molasses is less common in food and more in cosmetics. Molasses extracts promote healthy hair growth and soften hair, add rich texture and prevent premature graying.

Birch sugar - Xylitol

  • This type of sugar alcohol resembles sugar, and is extracted from corn or birch. It has 40 % fewer calories than white sugar. Xylitol does not raise blood sugar, so it is also recommended for diabetics. It is ideal for those who struggle with candida, and in children it reduces the occurrence of caries. Xylitol is obtained similarly to maple syrup — by cutting the bark.

How to use xylitol?

  • It is important to know that xylitol can act as a laxative, and the body needs time to get used to its presence. Likewise, xylitol should not be used in making dough and cakes because it prevents it from rising. You can add it to coffees and teas, just like white sugar.

Erythrol

  • It is another type of sugar alcohol that has even fewer calories. Erythrol does not raise blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It is considered safe for diabetics to consume and is well tolerated. Erythritol occurs naturally in a variety of foods, including many fruits and mushrooms, as well as in fermented foods such as cheese, wine, beer, and soy sauce.

How is erythrol used?

  • This sugar is recommended for those who are on a special diet, such as the LCHF diet, which implies less intake of carbohydrates and more fat. Precisely for those who are on such a diet, tiramisu with erythrole is the right choice for sweetening in accordance with their diet.

HOW TO CHOOSE A SUBSTITUTE SUGAR?

  • Whether you want to eat healthier sugars or manage your weight, choose your replacement based on your goal. Be aware of the side effects of each sugar substitute and how much you can actually use them. Most sugar substitutes are completely natural, but their caloric value is quite similar to white sugar. Don't forget that some sugars have different tastes, which is why you have to get used to them. Take care of your health, and you can do that if you minimally or completely reduce the use of white sugar, as well as the refined sugar that comes from store-bought sweets.

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