Honey. There, I got that one out of the way. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you say, “a natural, healthy, non-sugar sweetener is obviously going to be honey.” Well, now that I’ve gotten it out of the way, you can expect this list to contain no traces of honey. I will try to make it a little sweet for you, though.
The average American is said to consumer more than 150 pounds of sugar each year. That would be me eating my entire weight in sugar. That’s fairly nasty. And considering I’m diabetic, I’d probably be dead about half-way through. High fructose corn syrup, glucose, and dextrose are just ways to hide sugar in packaged products. Some list as cane or beet sugar, which is a marketing ploy to give everything a healthier sound.
But it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Americans contracting diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and heart and cardiovascular disease. Of course we need sugar for energy, but nearly everything is broken down into its simplest form when digested. Almost everything except proteins and fats get broken down into carbohydrates, which act as energy to keep us going.
So how do we get this sweet energy without the nasty side-effects?
9 Natural Sweeteners (Not Including Honey)
1. Maple Syrup
Lower on the glycemic scale than refined sugar, this natural sweetener is slower to raise your blood sugar levels. Although a source of minerals and antioxidants, maple syrup may not be a “health food” – but it is a better alternative than pure sugar.
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Antioxidant rich dates soaked in hot water until soft and then pulsed in your food processor become a sweetening paste. Dates contain beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and have a lower glycemic index than refined sugar.
3. Pureed Banana
Even though bananas and other fruits are natural sources of fructose, it is in amounts that your body can process. Use pureed banana instead of sugar in baked goods, and you will also get a punch of potassium that can benefit blood pressure. One cup of pureed banana can substitute for one cup of sugar.
Another sweet and delicious sweetener to naturally sweeten baked goods, applesauce contains pectin, a water soluble fiber that helps regulate blood glucose levels. Make your own applesauce to be sure you aren’t getting added sugars from the store bought variety.
5. Prune Puree
Prunes, or dried plums are another good one for baked goods. Rehydrate and process into a paste, then stir into your favorite recipes to cut the sugar while adding beneficial nutrients and fiber. This natural sweetener will also naturally moisten your food.
Dried cranberries, blueberries, or goji berries will increase the sweetness of a dish without having to add refined sugar. Try adding a handful of berries to oatmeal, granola, or homemade energy bars. These berries don’t just offer sweetness, but a host of other health benefits as well.
Cinnamon has been found to lower blood sugar levels, and it can be a healthy alternative for sugar. Replace the sugar in your morning coffee or cup of tea with cinnamon, or add it to oatmeal or plain, unflavored yogurt.
A low calorie, popular sugar alternative, Stevia is 100 times sweeter than sugar, and may be the best sugar substitute for diabetics. Like cinnamon, stevia has been shown in studies to improve blood glucose levels in diabetics.
9. Yacon Syrup
Yacon syrup is made from the South American Yacon plant. Yacon contains a specific probiotic fiber called fructooligosaccharides. One study showed yacon to cause weight loss in overweight women.
So toss the bag of sugar out the window. May sound like an old superstition, or an odd exercise, but what it will really do is focus your sweetener consumption on a more natural sweetener.
A world without refined sugar – wouldn’t that be sweet?
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