Sugar is a major source of empty calories. Almost a quarter of our excess calorie intake comes from added sugar. Hence, limiting sugar consumption is essential for healthy living. However, reducing sugar consumption does not necessarily mean avoiding all types of sweet foods. You can easily sweeten your foods with a small amount of healthy sugar substitute. The natural sweeteners, apart from satisfying your sugar cravings, are usually rich in nutrients that are absent in sugar.
Natural Sugar Substitutes That Are Healthier Than Sugar
1. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a nutrient dense natural sweetener. It is a valuable source of B vitamins including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin B6. It also contains magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, copper and chromium. Furthermore, blackstrap molasses contains antioxidants that help in protecting the body from the harmful free radicals that are associated with chronic health disorders.
Stevia is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Just a few drops of stevia leaf extract are enough to sweeten your dishes. Hence, sweetening your foods with stevia has no effect on your blood sugar level. Furthermore, stevia is usually considered safe. However, people on blood pressure lowering drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol lowering drugs and antimicrobials should consult their physicians before taking stevia.
3. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is another wonderful alternative to table sugar. It is a good source of manganese and zinc. It contains a small amount of calcium, potassium and iron. However, maple syrup is best known as a source of antioxidants. It contains more than 24 types of antioxidant compounds.
A teaspoon of honey contains slightly more calories than a teaspoon of sugar. Nevertheless, honey, especially organic unprocessed honey, is more nutritious than sugar. Honey is noted for its healing properties. It works as a natural antibiotic and antihistamine.
Jaggery is traditionally made from sugarcane and date palm. The unrefined sugar is a rich source of nutrients. It is especially rich in iron, which makes it the ideal food for boosting your hemoglobin level. In the Indian folk medicines, jaggery is used for treating a number of ailments such as cold, cough, asthma, water retention and high blood pressure.