5 Healthy Alternatives to White Sugar
For many people, sugar is a big part of our diet. We drink it in our drinks, mix it in our foods, have it in almost all the products available in our supermarkets. For this reason, when we try to cut out sugar from our diets, it can be frustrating to find new ways to get the level of sweetness we desire. That said, there's no need to worry, because there are many sugar substitutes available. This article explores five replacement sweeteners for white sugar and the many ways that they can improve your life.
Healthy Alternatives to White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Palm Sugar
1. Brown Sugar
Although brown sugar is still technically sugar, it is a lot healthier than white sugar. It is not as refined (meaning that it is processed in a much more natural way), allowing it to keep a lot of the nutritional value of the sugarcane, including many vitamins and minerals. With a soft caramel flavor, brown sugar can be used in place of white sugar to sweeten hot drinks, flavor deserts, or as an ingredient when baking.
Originally from South America, stevia has grown in popularity over the past decade, hailed for its naturally sweet taste and medicinal properties. The processed leaves of the plant contain the chemicals stevioside and rebaudioside, which are much sweeter than refined sugars, but contain zero calories. Stevia has no effect on blood sugar levels and has not been shown to cause dental cavities or other tooth-related problems, making it an ideal substitute for sugar.
When taken in high quantities, Stevia can cause nausea and dizziness. Consuming it in moderation is advised. Stevia can also cause allergic reactions to those who are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, daisies, and marigolds (these plants are all part of the same family).
Jaggery is a traditionally processed form of cane sugar, made from cane juice and sometimes palm or date sap. It is naturally sweet and inexpensive to make. Jaggery has been used for thousands of years in South America and Asia to sweeten beverages and foods. Jaggery has been linked to a boosted immune system and raised iron levels, which are useful for liver detoxification and for preventing constipation.
Jaggery can be found in large block constructs that can be cut into smaller pieces. Alternatively, for those who want to use it exclusively as a sugar substitute, it is available in a granulated form.
Honey is the sweet, sticky fluid produced by many varieties of bees to provide sustenance for their growing young. Highly prized throughout history, man has long cultivated bees for their sought after product, and honey has been a human staple for many centuries.
Low in unhealthy sugars, and high in energy, honey has a wide range of healthy benefits. It can be enjoyed by stirring a few spoonfuls into your drink for a low-calorie sugar replacement, or as an addition to curries or stews, where it gives a unique sweetness.
5. Palm Sugar
The crystals gained from coconut or palm sap have a mild caramel flavor and are used extensively in Asia, primarily for making traditional desserts (especially Indian and Bengali sweets). Palm sugar involves minimal processing and no chemicals are used throughout the process, meaning that it is a lot healthier than the many-times refined white sugar we are used to using.
Coconut and palm sugars have low fructose content and retains traces of the minerals and anti-oxidants unlike white sugar. For this reason, palm sugar has been rising in popularity among the health-conscious as a helpful sugar replacement.
- Oregon State University, "What is the relative sweetness of different sugars and sugar substitutes?". 1 June 2012.
- Lauren Cox, Live Science Contributor, "What Is Stevia?" April 26, 2018.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.