During my workshops I talk about ‘natural sweeteners’ and by that I mean
- maple Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Fruit puree
and discuss using them in the place of refined sugars (eg raw, white, castor, brown) but seriously let’s get down to the fact straight up – these natural sweeteners are still a form of sugar so let’s use them wisely.
So I mentioned I always recommend them to be used in the place of the refined alternative & here’s a few reasons why…..
- They generally contain more fibre which helps regulate sugar absorption and the lower the GI(the rate in which it flows into our blood)
- There’s generally no preservatives or chemicals that can be left behind from process other sugars
- Some have good medicinal qualities
- Generally they contain added nutritional benefits such as magnesium & other vitmins including B
- The don’t seem to be as addictive as say, pure sugar or high fructose syrups
My list and what’s good about them:
Honey. Honey tastes great and has antiseptic and medical qualities. Best to choose an organic and raw honey from a reliable apiary. Poorer quality honey can be sourced from bees that are fed sugar, and so is little better than sugar. You get what you pay for! Note that honey is high glycemic and harmful to teeth. In this regard it is no better than sugar, so moderation is key.
Coconut Palm Sugar. Coconut Palm Sugar is a popular natural sweetener that is granulated which makes it convenient to use in place of ordinary sugar. It is mostly produced in a very natural and eco friendly way and is a sustainable form of agriculture. It has a somewhat lower glycemic index than sugar and beneficial nutrients. However it is mostly sucrose so like honey moderation is important. Has a lovely flavor and is great for cooking.
Maple Syrup. Maple Syrup has a beautiful and distinct flavor and is high in B vitamins and minerals. It is a totally natural and unrefined product. It is quite expensive, however, and many restaurants provide a flavored form of high fructose corn sweetener. Beware!! Almost all of the sweetness in Maple Syrup come from sucrose (ordinary sugar) so moderation is important. It has a slightly lower glycemic index than sugar but is unsuitable for diabetics.
Banana’s. Bananas naturally contain a low level of fructose, which is right for some people and not for others. Its the added bonuses like: They’re rich in fibre and contain a good content of potassium and magnesium that ensure they are a good substitute for sugar in your recipes.
Dates. Dates soaked in water overnight provide syrup or after soaking the whole fruit can be processed to form a paste. This paste in rich in free-radical busting antioxidants and loaded with fibre. Surprisingly they are a low GI sweetener.
It’s important to remember it’s not only our teeth that are affected by high sugar foods and lots of them -its also our gut, hormones, skin & organs. These systems all suffer from the overload (even natural sugars) so it’s important to be mindful when eating – yes even healthy eating.