Sugar has been highlighted time and again as a real enemy of our bodies. It can be linked to all manner of things from mental health problems to obesity and it is widely believed that where possible, alternatives should be found.
Not convinced? Have a re-read of 10 reasons to cut the sugar, then read on...
Luckily for those of you with a sweet tooth, we've found all manner of alternatives to traditional sugar, from old school sweeteners to paleo and raw alternatives and others growing in popularity.
The world of old school sweeteners has gone majorly out of fashion but there was a time where, if you were ‘dieting’ and avoiding sugar the only thing you’d reach for would be your packet of sweeteners. Most popular were (and still are) Splenda and Equal, both of which are sucralose and saccharin based and are made entirely synthetically. It is this synthetic nature that makes them less popular in a world where many are embracing fresh, natural and organic lifestyles.
100% natural, sweeter than sugar and available in raw form for people who are committed to a raw diet. Choosing organically and locally produced honey is possible too, for more ethical bonus points, and it is packed full of anti-oxidants and vitamins and has antimicrobial properties too. It has higher calories that standard sugar, but is much sweeter so you can use less
Agave nectar or just agave is taken from the cactus of the same name. It has a taste and texture similar to honey but doesn’t contain as many antioxidants, although it does have the same number of calories. On the plus side it is sweeter than traditional sugar so you can use less than you normally would.
Most recently made famous as the sweetener used in Coca Cola Life, stevia is a South American herb which is measured to be 300 times sweeter than sugar. Popular in South America and Japan, stevia is growing in popularity in the West, too.
Sap from the coconut palm is heated to evaporate its water content and turned into granules. These granules have the sweetness of coconut and benefit from a low glycaemic index score, being there is no sugar high followed by the dreaded crash. It is similar to brown sugar in terms of taste but has a richness to it and it can be used as you would regular sugar with ease.
Those on a paleo-based diet need to keep things natural, so their sweetener options are 100% natural too, with raw options available as well.
Pure maple sap has been enjoyed as a sweetener for centuries and therefore, raw, unrefined maple syrup can be enjoyed as a sugar alternative for those committed to paleo and raw lifestyles.
More and more sugar alternatives are being discovered and experimented as the evidence against standard sugar stacks up.
You could try date sugar, brown rice syrup or even dried fruit if you need a quick sugar hit.
Some alternatives are best used in cooking whilst others can be popped in drinks or on cereals, the more you research and taste the sooner you’ll have your perfect sugar substitute.
I am a big cake and biscuit fan (sometimes bigger than I should be...) but sugar in this house is really only used by the occasional visitor. Doesn't go in tea (I trained myself out of that and don't like it now) and don't use it in anything else. So no need for alternatives!
is there a difference between honey and sugar? (what do the bees think?) Easier just to cultivate a less sweet tooth. I remember my nan using those old school sweeteners and trying her tea once; never again!
Totally agree with Craig on this - these sweeteners are great but they're hardly affordable - yes there's cheap honey in the supermarket but you can be sure it won't be of the quality you're looking for. They don't make it easy for us!
That's really interesting that refined sugar is linked to mental health problems like depression. I had no idea there was a link. A natural diet, avoiding anything refined, really seems to be the answer to everything!
I would be happy to use all of the above sweeteners, if only they were cheaper.