Healthy alternatives to white sugar
Simone Gabbay, RNCP
Can life be sweet without white sugar? You bet it can! An abundance of natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives makes a slow death by the white stuff avoidable.
Can life be sweet without white sugar? You bet it can!
To satisfy your sweet tooth, there’s no need to use a refined product whose consumption is associated with blood sugar imbalances and a host of chronic diseases. An abundance of natural, alternative sweeteners makes a slow death by sugar completely avoidable.
Rather than robbing your body of nutrients as white sugar does, unrefined sweeteners based on whole foods make a nutritional contribution to your diet. Whether to add a healthy touch of sweetness to your favourite beverage or to determine what to substitute for white sugar in your baking and cooking, look for these and other wholesome sweeteners in your local health food store.
Unrefined sweeteners based on whole foods make a nutritional contribution to your diet.
What it is
How it’s used
Quantity suggested to replace 1 cup (250 mL) of sugar
|Blackstrap molasses||dark, intensely flavoured syrup extracted from the third pressing of whole sugar cane||rich in essential minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium||ideal for use in strongly flavoured baked goods such as gingerbread and spice cake||1 1/2 cups (375 mL)|
|Date sugar||pitted and dehydrated dates that are pulverized||high in vitamin A, niacin, calcium, iron, and potassium||great in baked goods and as topping for cereals and desserts||1 cup (250 mL)|
|Honey||flower nectar processed and concentrated by bees||raw, unpasteurized honey contains numerous beneficial enzymes, vitamins, and minerals||delicious in beverages and as a topping on cereals, breads, crackers; East Indian Ayurvedic tradition advises against heating honey in cooking and baking||3/4 cup (180 mL)|
|Maple syrup||maple tree sap boiled down to a concentrated syrup||excellent source of the trace mineral manganese; good source of zinc||delectable on pancakes, crepes, waffles; great for baking; excellent beverage sweetener||1/2 cup (125 mL)|
|Rice syrup||mildly sweet syrup made from brown rice through enzymatic action||maltose, the predominant sugar in rice syrup, is slow digesting which prevents rapid blood sugar fluctuations||ideal as a topping on cereals, pancakes, waffles; great for beverages, baked goods, or dishes for which mild sweetness is desired||1 cup (250 mL) (results in reduced overall sweetness)1 cup (250 mL) (results in reduced overall sweetness)|
|Sucanat||whole sugar cane granules produced from dried and crystallized syrup||provides vitamin B6, calcium, iron, potassium, and chromium which helps stabilize blood sugar||excellent universal sugar substitute yielding a rich flavour||1 cup (250 mL)|
|Stevia||intensely sweet, leafy plant originating in South America; available dried and cut, or in powdered or liquid form||non-nutritive and noncaloric, stevia is not metabolized by the human digestive system; it helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure||great for sweetening beverages and desserts; learning to cook and bake with stevia requires commitment, but it’s worth the effort for those with blood sugar imbalances||2 Tbsp (30 mL)|
Note: Use all sweeteners in moderation, including those that are natural and wholesome. Remember that brown sugar is refined sugar that merely has a small amount of molasses added back to it for colour.