Sugar is bad- Sugar causes inflammation- Sugar will make you sick- Sugar makes you fat and so on…
There is no doubt that refined sugar which has zero nutrient value can cause sickness, feed disease and play havoc with our hormones. It is found in numerous packaged foods, bakery goods, drinks, snacks, take out meals etc. and is a key reason that diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, leaky gut and cardio vascular disease are on the rise!
Having said that we all need some sweetness in our lives so what is the alternative?
There are many sweeteners on the market that have a better nutrient profile then sugar and don’t spike Insulin the way sugar does, here I discuss my top 5 sweeteners which can always be found in my kitchen.
One of my favourite sweeteners, dates have been around since ancient times and are loaded with potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. They also have good amounts of protein and fibre so whilst delivering the sweetness they also provide other nutrients and prevent sugar spikes.
Dates can be eaten straight out of the container to fix a sugar craving or stuffed with a nut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon for a quick dessert. They can be blended with other ingredients to make energy balls, crusts, puddings, etc. Date syrup is available now and tastes great in pies, desserts, waffles and more.
Raw Honey is nature’s gift to us, its unpasteurized, unheated and delivers immense anti-microbial properties. Raw honey promotes a healthier gut microbiome and brings us the goodness of potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and many enzymes.
It is important to note that these are the benefits of Raw Honey, once heated and pasteurized many of its health benefits are lost. Raw honey is best found at farmers markets, on farms, and in some stores. The darker the honey the higher the nutrient properties.
Use raw honey on cereals, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, yoghurt, raw desserts, toast etc.
Note: Do not cook with raw honey or add it to hot drinks, if you want to add raw honey to your tea wait until its cool enough to drink and add the honey at that time.
With its robust sweet taste Maple Syrup is a hit with children and adults alike. It is high in the minerals manganese, calcium and potassium. Maple syrup helps reduce oxidative damage in the body thereby reducing a disease state.
Maple syrup is generally associated with pancakes, but it can be used anywhere for sweetness including glazes, sauces, marinades, salad dressings and of course desserts!
Blackstrap molasses with its distinctive taste is made from the sugar cane plant but goes through more process then refined sugar. It contains potassium, calcium and iron which refined sugar doesn’t and helps improve iron deficiencies, supports the bones and can improve hair quality.
Blackstrap Molasses can be used right out of the bottle on oatmeal, cereals, toast etc. or it can be used in smoothies, baking, marinades and sauces, in fact it is excellent in homemade BBQ sauce.
Many people don’t think of this, but bananas make a great sweetener, with their excellent nutrition profile of potassium, fibre and vitamin B6 this household staple is easy to use.
For a Breakfast sweetener- slice the bananas and add to your oatmeal, cereal, power bowl, toast etc.
For Smoothies- simply blend with all other ingredients and for Baking- mash up banana as an alternative to sugar, the proportion is 1 cup sugar= 1 cup mashed overripe banana.
Whilst bananas are sweet enough as a dessert for an added indulgence dip them in dark chocolate for special occasions!
Whilst these alternatives are far better for health then refined sugar it is important to understand that they are still sweeteners, so they do have substantial amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. It is recommended that they be consumed occasionally in small amounts, not everyday.