The term “refined sugar” causes many a health conscious foodie to wince. More and more people are searching for tasty alternatives in natural sweeteners. Here we look at what sort of healthy options are available to the dieter who loves sweets.
You can’t get much more natural that honey. Honey has been sweetening food for nearly as long as there has been food to sweeten. Many exotic and delicious dessert recipes, particularly those coming from the middle-east, Northern Africa and Greece, rely mainly on honey to deliver their rich favors. Honey is like wine, with different flavors and subtleties coming from different geographical areas and plant bases. Honey contains around 16 calories per teaspoon, which is one more calories than sugar. However, honey is both sweeter and dense than sugar, meaning you actually use less to sweeten your foods.
Agave is a very popular natural sweetener. It is nectar dervived from the heart of the Agave cactus that grows in Southwest America and Mexico. Agave has the same calories as honey. However, agave is 25% more sweet that honey, which itself is sweeter than sugar. Only a small amount a agave syrup is needed to accomplish what a significantly larger amount of sugar is needed do. Besides being popular among vegans and raw foodists, Agave is also popular for its nutritional value. It contains many healthy enzymes not found in other sweeteners.
3. Blackstrap Molasses
Molasses is another old classic when it comes to natural sweeteners. Appearing as a byproduct of processing natural cane sugar, molasses in a thick dark liquid that packs a very sweet punch. It too has 16 calories per teaspoon, just like honey. However, molasses is so sweet most recipes recommend on a half cup of molasses to replace one cup of sugar. It has a strong flavor to go with that sweetness and may not be right for all recipes. However, it also contains more nutrients than almost any other available natural sweetener, containing both calcium and iron.
Stevia is perhaps one of the most popular low calorie natural sweeteners. It has zero calories and is directly derived from a plant source, the leaves of the Stevia bush. It is also 300 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. This means that the raw stevia has to be diluted. It is usually mixed with bulking agents and dextrose (corn derivative) to be palatable. Some manufacturers dilute the stevia with non-organic substances, so it is important to be familiar with the brand of stevia you are buying.
5. Whey Low
Whey Low is a sugar substitute that, oddly enough, is composed primarily of sugar. Invented by a chemistry doctorate when his wife was diagnosed with diabetes, Whey Low has four calories per teaspoon. It was created by formulating three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose and lactose, in such a way that would make them difficult for the body to digest. So your tongue gets the pleasure of sugar but your body doesn’t suffer the consequences. It is used as a one for one substitute for sugar, and is said to be safe for diabetics and carb-counters.
Choices in natural sweetners range from the world’s oldest sweeteners to new scientific discoveries. Choose your sweetener based on your own needs and preferences. There is an option to satisy every individual sweet tooth.