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. Debbie from Dyer says:

    I wish our nation didn’t consume so much sugar and products made with sugar. Many of our health issues come from eating foods and snacks loaded with it.

  2. Michele Davis says:

    I use stevia( a natural plant extract) and I use it in my cooking. I also use dreamfields pasta with has a low glycemic index. In my cooking I try to use mostly organic fresh raw veg.I would love to do a cooking show on healthy eating using all fresh and raw foods.

  3. Tara says:

    Gluten intolerance and Pcos-means healthy eating is difficult when I don’t want to work at it. products like Stevia are fantastic, but all gluten free products are full of carbs and calories. Help

  4. Cindy H. says:

    I’ve recently found “natural” sweeteners available in the stores. One was made with a combination of Stevia, and Xylitol and the other was a combination of Inulin and Luo Han Guo. Are these sweeteners really safe and organic?

  5. Dana White says:

    Hi Cindy
    Check out a previous post on artificial sweeteners to learn more about Stevia. You can learn more about other food additives from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

  6. Kirsten Hill says:

    Have you heard of a new drink coming out in April 2009 from All Sport? It is called All Sport natural and it is sweetened with stevia instead of sugar. This sports drink promises to be completely natural and calorie free. I look forward to seeing what this drink tastes like, and I am eager to use it as an alternative to water when working out.

  7. Brenda says:

    Not everyone has the time or the money it takes to make most of the dishes your chefs make. Most americans just want affordable, tasty recipes. Can someone simplify and tone down some great food recipes for us?

  8. Cora says:

    All Sport is coming out with a zero calorie drink! This is fantastic news! I hope they bring it to the Chicago area first!

  9. Claudia says:

    I have read that some agave syrups are very high in fructose (80%+) which is not absorbed into our bodies, but processed by our liver. I have looked at the agave syrup labels, but none of them say what percentage of fructose they contain. I am wondering if agave syrup is safe and if so, how do I find out which ones have lower fructose levels?

  10. Ann says:

    Zero Sweetner > Is it made in a Lab, Truvia Sweetner > Is it made in a Lab, Splenda is made in a lab and the scoop on this is it raise your blood sugars and have stopped using Splenda. I have switched to Zero and/or Truvia right now.

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