Sweet Alternatives to Sugar

by in Healthy Tips, March 5, 2009

Looking for a creative replacement for table sugar? These four natural sweeteners can bring new flavors and different levels of sweetness to your favorite recipes. The best part is that they’re less processed than the “white stuff.”

Honey contains powerful antioxidants, and the different kinds of honey have unique flavors. Drizzle clover honey over waffles or try milder Acacia honey in a smoothie. To learn more about honey, check out Toby’s post on honey’s benefits.

Agave Nectar
The plant that gives us tequila also provides the luscious golden sap known as agave nectar. It looks similar to honey and has a mild flavor that is truly unique — yet, not at all overwhelming. Though it’s sweeter than sugar, agave nectar is digested more slowly, which keeps blood sugar more stable. All that sweetness means you can use less, which will save you a few calories. It’s versatile enough to use in baked goods, brewed tea or even marinades. Agave also contains sapogenins, a compound that helps fight inflammation.

Brown Rice Syrup
Made from cooked brown rice, this sweetener has a complex, pleasant and almost tangy flavor. Similar to agave, brown rice syrup takes longer to digest, which helps prevent drastic spikes in blood sugar. Use brown rice syrup in recipes that call for maple syrup (another great sugar alternative). Flavor brown rice syrup with cinnamon or drizzle over a fruit salad. For a revised muffin recipe, replace each cup of sugar with a half cup of syrup.

Pomegranate Molasses
This gorgeous dark red syrup has a deep, rich flavor. This sweetener is a concentrated source of pomegranate juice, which provides polyphenols — antioxidants that protect from cancer and cardiovascular disease. Pomegranate molasses may be a bit harder to find than some of the other sweeteners; look for it online or, better yet, try making your own. You’ll be surprised at all the places you can use it. Try it in the classic Middle Eastern dip called Muhammara.

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Comments (28)

  1. Sarah says:

    All sweeteners raise your blood sugars. That's why they're called blood "sugars". Fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose… all sugars. They're all converted into glucose in the body which raises your blood sugar.

  2. etiquettelady says:

    TRUVIA is the bomb diggity!! Try it. I've lost 15 pounds and dropped five sizes in the last year. Artificial sweeteners are not good for you and was thrilled when Truvia was finally allowed into the US. Can't wait for Coke and Pepsi to make a drink with it. Supposedly it's coming.

  3. larry says:

    I would love to see a cooking show that shows you a truly sugar free way to baking/cooking. Some shows show a single recipe to a healthy way to cook but do not show how to cook/bake sugar free

  4. tamidor says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for your comments. Just a cool trivia fact–dextrose is actually glucose (so it won't be converted to it). You'll find the word dextrose on many packaged foods (like gum) and it's just a form of glucose.

  5. Patty says:

    I had Gastric Bypass and was told that i could have unlimited Zero Calorie sweetner, like Splenda or Sweet n low. I hated the bitter taste, but was dedicated to using it after surgery. I was consuming about 18 packets of Splenda, just in the morning. I
    started to experience confusion, shakes, clumziness, irratability and falling asleep at work at my computer. I cut it out almost 100% and resumed back to normal once it was cleared out of my system. I have been using Truvia and PureVia 100% of the time with no symptons.

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