Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Are you in need of more natural alternatives to refined sugar? These are the 3 BEST natural sugar substitutes that are great for baking and cooking!
I’m sure a few of you reading this have seen documentaries like, Sugar Coated, that discuss the toxicity of consuming sugar in your diet. Over the years I have watched a few and have cringed and grimaced at the fact that sugar is a highly addictive and inflammatory substance. This can lead to long term health problems in the gut, obesity, cancer, etc (1).
Unfortunately, I was blessed with a very sensitive body. In the past few months alone I have had to remove certain foods from my diet because they were causing an uproar in my digestive tract and skin. The most recent has been refined sugar. So what is refined sugar? Refined sugar can vary from white cane sugar to powdered sugar, and can be found in I kid you not almost every processed food. Refined sugar is completely stripped of any minerals or nutrients so it is left as a pristine white color that is more neutral in flavor, dissolves fast, and has a longer shelf life. This makes it perfect for being an additive in foods and goes by 56 names (2). Yeah, you read that right 56 names. God damn… This makes it incredibly easy to sneak it in foods and on ingredient labels.
Here are a few names you have likely seen on food labels:
I dare you to look at the ingredient labels next time you go shopping. You may be shocked at what you see. I know I was! It is slightly crazy and terrifying... I would like to add that natural sugars found in fruit are not bad, so eat to your stomachs content. I will also disclose that eating the following sugars like maple syrup or coconut sugar in excess will provide similar effects that eating refined sugars can. So my only word of caution is to be mindful of your consumption of those sugars and sugar in general.
These 3 Alternatives to Refined Sugar are healthier than traditionally processed sugar and can be easily substituted. Make sure to check out the FREE guide for substituting these sugars at the end of the post or click here to download it!
Dates are easily the healthiest on this list because they are a whole, plant food. They contain fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. These sweet fruits have a caramel-like taste and can be easily substituted in a 1:1 ratio. Using dates in baked goods tend to give a more cake-like texture and can taste a little less sweet than what you may be used to. This Chocolate Zucchini Muffin Recipe is naturally sweetened with dates and is a great way to try baking with dates.
2. Coconut Sugar
Coconut Sugar is unlike other refined sugars because it still contains minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants. However, these nutrients are much less and you would have to eat a whole bag before getting the nutrients needed. With that said this is still a better alternative than refined sugar. It is similar to brown sugar, in that it has a sweet caramel-like flavor and is great for any type of baking, caramels, and the like. It can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio.
3. Liquid Sweeteners (Agave and Maple Syrup)
As with the others, liquid sweeteners like, Agave and Maple Syrup, contain some nutrients and antioxidants. However, like coconut sugar, it is still an extremely dense source of sugar. Although it is better than refined sugar, eat with moderation. These sweeteners typically have unique, rich flavors that can enhance the flavor profile of a dish. When substituting in a recipe, you can substitute ⅔ Cup Liquid Sweetener for 1 C Granulated Sugar.
Overall, these 3 Alternatives to Refined Sugar vary in their health benefits and tastes. If I could recommend one of these to anyone, it would be to swap dates for refined sugars in their recipes since it is a whole, plant food.
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