My Top 4 Natural Sweeteners - Healthy Natural Sugar Substitutes
Oh, refined sugar, the root of all evil!
One of the most common concerns I hear from my clients is that they have sugar cravings and they can’t stop consuming sugar. Sugar has been linked to many illnesses from diabetes, cancer, obesity to tooth decay, depression, acne and so much more. Sugar is also hidden in foods such as tomato sauce, cereals, yogurt, canned fruit. It is almost impossible to eliminate it from our diets. For our good fortune, there are a ton of healthier alternatives to sugar and this blog post I will be sharing my top 4.
What Are Natural Sweeteners?
Natural sweeteners are sugar sources that are close to their most natural state. The less refined the better so they still contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and in some cases fiber. Even natural sweeteners should still be consumed in MODERATION as they are still sugar, however, they are better than the nasty chemical and highly-processed alternatives. Stick to these natural sweeteners and forget about the white processed stuff.
These are my favorite options:
1. Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar is a good source of potassium, electrolytes, nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index. Organic, unrefined, coconut palm sugar is great for baking because it has the equal comparison of 1 cup to 1 cup of regular sugar in a lot of recipes. This is my number 1 option because it doesn’t have a different taste like other natural sweeteners.
2. Dates/ Date syrup: are great because they are high in fiber, potassium, minerals, and vitamins. The fiber in dates actually slows down sugar absorption in your body. I also love to buy organic date syrup, I like to use it on top of pancakes, to sweeten my tea.
3. Raw Manuka Honey: One of the oldest natural sweeteners and most used natural sweetener. Raw honey contains amounts of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, so it is important to look for raw on the label because of the pasteurization process with kill most of the good stuff in it. Honey also helps reduce allergy symptoms, is used as a natural medicine to help heal wounds, and to fight seasonal allergies.
4. Stevia: If you have blood sugar issues, are overweight, or have diabetes, then stevia may be the best sweetener for you. Stevia is a no calorie, all-natural sweetener that comes from a leaf of a flowering plant. Make sure you get the green leaf stevia (some farmer markets sell them). This is probably my least favorite because of its taste but nonetheless is a great alternative.
Remember, addressing the underlying reasons for sugar cravings and learning to experience naturally present sweetness in food can help support your health for the long term. Shorter term, when you are looking for a healthier alternative to sugar, there are tons of options out there, just pick the one that works best for you and your family. I hope this information was helpful and don’t forget to do your research before choosing your natural sweetener.
Disclaimer: Please note I am not a medical professional, licensed nutritionist, or registered dietician. This blog is a reflection of my own personal beliefs and opinions, based on research I’ve come across in the food and fitness industry. While I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I am not a doctor. Please always consult with your primary physician first before changing your diet, or starting a new exercise program.