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. Elizabeth says:

    I would love to see a show dedicated to healthy eating through whole-foods. No refined foods allowed! No artificial foods allowed. Organics, free range, and TRUELY healthy food that feeds to soul and prevents illness! Please!

  2. Dawn says:

    One of the hardest things for me to want to give up is sugar. I admit I love it, or really I just love sweet things. I look forward to finding healthier alternatives to sugar and will most definitely try those noted in this informative article. Thank you for giving me food or rather, sweets for thought.

  3. Jeanette says:

    Where can I find Agave nectar?

  4. Carolyne says:

    I mostly eat whole grain, lower fat and less sugary foods as are many other Americans. When are you going to produce a show for us? Thanks for the Alternative Sugars article.

  5. Maureen says:

    A show that deals with healthy alternatives is a good idea. It would be nice to learn how to cook with different grains other then wheat and take dairy out of the diet as well since many vegetarian recipes add cheese in almost everything.

  6. Mel says:

    I have been reading Michael Pollan’s books (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food) and would love to see a show devoted to whole foods, with no additives.

  7. Kristine Brabson says:

    Jeannette, I just bought some agave nectar at my corner grocery store. You’ll likely find it next to the honey. If not there, check your local health food store. It comes in light and dark.

  8. Sam says:

    What about stevia?

  9. Fran Larson says:

    I wish there were more yogurt with sugar instead of artificial sweeteners. They are hard to find.

  10. Bonnie Avila says:

    Have you tried ZSweet, a natural sweetner made from sugar, get information from zsweet.com

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