Recently I revealed that I didn’t use Agave Syrup/Nectar in my diet. You can read more about this post here. As a result, I have been bombarded with questions regarding what I use instead. As promised, here is a list of my natural sugar substitutes…
When talking about sugar substitutes, it is so important to understand that I don’t use these everyday, we eat a diet relatively low in natural sugars for optimal health and wellbeing.
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you will know I am a huge advocate for whole foods and this applies to all areas of my diet, even the sweet stuff! If I need to sweeten any meal (like a quinoa porridge or banana bread), my partner and I will always turn to organic seasonal fruit first. What fruits are in season now? Apples, Oranges, Bananas and Mandarins, just to name a few.
Fresh Organic Medjool dates (not the dried versions) are a wonderful source of natural sweetness. They are rich source of dietary fiber and rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B5 along with vitamin A1 and C. They work wonderfully in cooking (you can find a recipe for cacao energy balls here) and work well in a green smoothie.
For those clients who don’t like the aftertaste of stevia, I recommend (in moderation), Rapadura Sugar. Like other sugars, Rapadura Sugar remains the most natural and unrefined sugar on the market. Darkly coloured and flavoured, the unrefined Rapadura granules retain the valuable vitamins and minerals that are essential for the digestion of sugar of which include: calcium, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, copper, zinc and manganese. It also contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, niacin and iron. Rapadura Sugar is available from all good health food stores.
It is so important to realise that I am referring to RAW Honey and not heavily processed varieties found in most supermarkets. Raw Honey is a great substitute and has been described by many health experts as an antiseptic, antibiotic and all-round health booster.
Maple Syrup is made from the sap of the black or red maple tree. We don’t use Maple Syrup in our house (only because we eat a lot of sweet foods), but authentic organic varieties of Maple Syrup have been shown to be a great source of manganese and zinc.
Stevia powder is a natural sweetener sourced from the Stevia plant. It has no effect on blood sugar levels and can be a great alternative to sugar for diabetics. When purchasing stevia, be sure to source 100% stevia extract and avoid cheaper imitations sold in most supermarkets, especially the ones containing Erythritol and other additives. If you are purchasing the powdered form of Stevia, choose green over white, as it is considered closer to its natural state.
RICE MALT SYRUP
It is made by culturing rice with enzymes to break down the starches, and is then cooked down to syrup. Rice Malt Syrup is low in sugars, including that of fructose. Recently RMS has been given a little negative media attention given that a 2012 study linked RMS to higher levels of arsenic contained in commercial food products such as toddler formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods for athletes (i.e. energy shots and gels). I am still waiting to see more research and I will update you all on my findings when I do however, given that this study was conducted on heavily refined and processed foods, not the syrup itself, leaves me asking a number of questions. If you are in doubt, leave it out 😉
Whilst these are all great alternatives to sugar and agave syrup, it is important to limit your sugar intake. Sweet treats are great every now and then however, they should not make up the majority of any diet. Load up on fresh vegetables, clean proteins and good quality fats. Sugar is sugar after all.