5 Healthy Alternatives to White Sugar
Nowadays, people have become increasingly conscious of their diet as a means of maintaining their health. With time and research, we have learned about the effects of the various commonly used cooking ingredients on our bodies. Sugar, especially the white refined variety, is known to be one such ingredient that is not really healthy for us. However, it is not something that you can do without completely, especially when it comes to baking and making desserts.
So what can you do?
The good news is that there are certain substitutes of white granulated sugar that are not only available easily in the market, but are also healthier than sugar. In this article, we discuss in detail 5 alternatives to white sugar, along with their pros and cons, that you can use in your cooking. Read on to learn more.
Derived from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana bush found in South America, Stevia is perhaps the best substitute for white sugar. It has no calories and is 200 times more potent than sugar. Hence, only a small quantity suffices for your needs. It is usually available as a white powder or as drops.
Pros- It is 100% natural and can lower blood sugar effectively. Recent studies also show that it has disease-preventing properties and can tackle metabolic syndrome effectively.
Cons- If taken in large quantities, it can lower blood pressure more than necessary. Also, there is ongoing research to find out if Stevia can interact with certain medications.
Honey has been used as a sweetener since ancient times. It is naturally-occurring and easily accessible. Though the mass-production of purely organic honey is virtually non-existent, you can usually find small scale bee farms producing local, organic honey in your area.
Pros- Honey is full of flavonoid antioxidants which are great for your health and immune system. Additionally, it is rich in amino acids, vitamins B and C and other minerals. Honey also has antimicrobial properties and has been used to treat symptoms like cough through the ages.
Cons- Honey does have a high sugar content and hence must be used accordingly. The quality of honey is also dependent on the types of the flowers the bees collect the nectar from and thus not all honey is created equal. It is not suitable for infants (under 1 year) because there is a risk of botulism from honey.
3. Sugar Alcohols
Despite the name, these are not actually alcohols. In fact, they are reduced-calorie sweeteners, the most commonly used of which are erythritol and xylitol.
Erythritol is found naturally in many fruits and other things like mushrooms. It can also be produced artificially. Xylitol can also be found occurring naturally but in small quantities. It is commonly used as a sweetener in mint, chewing gums and in certain toothpaste.
Pros- These are very low in calories and are known to prevent gastrointestinal problems. Xylitol additionally prevents tooth decay and other gum problems. Sugar alcohols are the preferred sweeteners for people with diabetes.
Cons- If ingested in excess, these can pull water into your gut and cause issues like bloating, gas formation, and even diarrhoea. Secondly, both erythritol and xylitol can be produced from genetically modified corn and hence you should always look for the non-GMO label while buying this product.
4. Coconut Sugar
Extracted from the coconut palm tree, coconut sugar is also called palm sugar. Its appearance is somewhat similar to that of brown sugar, though the granules are smaller and the product is on the drier side.
Pros- It contains inulin- a naturally occurring fibre that can stabilize blood sugar levels. Also, coconut trees need not be cut down to produce palm sugar. In fact, a single tree can produce sap for sugar for 20 years with minimal resource usage.
Cons- The sucrose content is relatively high in coconut sugar- about 70 to 80%. You will need to adjust your quantities accordingly while cooking.
5. Maple Syrup
Made by boiling down the sap of the maple tree, you can use this sweetener for things other than as a pancake topper. Maple syrup is great for baking cakes, cookies, or pastries.
Pros- It contains several antioxidants and other minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium, and calcium. Maple trees can produce sap for many years (in some cases 100!) if tended properly. Thus, it is a very sustainable product.
Cons- The sucrose content is high in maple syrup. Thus, you will need to exercise caution while cooking with it and adjust your recipes accordingly.
You can check out our offerings at Quality Food and find healthy alternatives to white sugar that are best suited to you and your family's needs. What's more, we will deliver the product of your choice to your doorstep at your convenience!