Are you looking for an alternative to refined white sugar? Are you confused about all the natural alternatives or just want to learn more about them? Don’t want your children or yourself to be bouncing off the walls and having a meltdown after eating sugar? If you answered yes, read on and learn more! There are answers/alternatives and I use many of them in my new cookbook, No Wheat No Dairy No Problem-see Orders page!
Many of us have made the choice to eliminate refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) from our diets and replace them with an array of more natural sweeteners. There are many alternatives for sweetening, but what are they and how do they differ? Many of these alternatives have a lower glycemic index which will eliminate the highs and lows associated with refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
The research on high fructose corn syrup is mixed. However, it does suggest that consuming it can promote diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Studies have shown a correlation between HFCS and the increased incidence of obesity and diabetes. Anyone who has eaten white sugar knows that it causes spikes in blood sugar followed by the sugar lows.
Agave nectar and palm sugar are suitable for diabetics because they are very low glycemic index. However, if you are a diabetic please consult your physician and try them in small quantities to begin. I hope they work well for you and you can have dessert again without suffering!
Many of us also experience inflammation in our bodies and get hives or feel “spacey” when we eat white sugar. Since refined sugar can be associated with inflammation, it can aggravate any pre-existing inflammation such as arthritis. I personally, cut it out of my diet many years ago and feel so much better. If I do eat some refined sugar, I break out in hives! It is very difficult to avoid it when eating out, but it is something we have complete control and choice in our own homes/kitchens. Read labels and make your own choice. It is hidden in all kinds of food, even salad dressing!
White sugar is highly processed and can be very toxic due to the chemical solutions, bleaching and filtering with bone charcoal(not vegan). Yes, bone is used to filter sugar. This processing is not only unhealthy for our bodies, but is doing harm to the environment.
The sugar cane itself is not the problem, but how it is processed and refined is a problem. There are less refined/processed sweeteners made from the sugar cane such as sucanat and molasses-see below.
Healthy Alternatives to refined white sugar(GI80): Available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, health food stores, some ethnic grocery stores and online
Agave nectar: (GI 32)Tastes sweet and neutral. Extracted from the Blue Agave Cactus. Raw agave syrup has a low glycemic index and is absorbed into the body much slower than sugar. It eliminates the highs and lows experienced with eating refined sugar. Dissolves in cold liquid. Available in light and dark, use light unless recipe indicates dark.
Palm Sugar/Coconut Sugar:(GI35) One comes from the palmyra or sugar palm and the other from coconut palm, but both are produced from the sweet, watery sap that drips from cut flower buds. The sap is boiled down to concentrate it and evaporate the moisture. Low glycemic index!
Date Sugar: (dates are about GI44, but sugar GI is not available) finely ground dried date crystals. Can be used in place of sugar. Very expensive.
Maple Syrup: (GI 54)syrup/sap from the Sugar Maple Tree that is boiled and evaporated. A flavorful sweetener. Also dried and made into crystals, known as Maple Sugar.
Honey: (GI58)derived from the nectar of flowers gathered by bees. Available in liquid and crystal form. Sweeter than sugar. Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Do not feed to infants under 2 years of age.
Molasses:(GI54) use unsulfured. Cane sugar syrup, unrefined/unprocessed. Great in gingerbread/snaps.
Sucanat: (GI55)dehydrated, unprocessed sugar cane juice. Fine ground golden brown crystals. An affordable, raw sweetener with a light molasses flavor. Interchangeable with maple/date sugar.
Give these alternatives a try and find your favorite. Please post a comment on this blog and share your experience or thoughts about alternative natural sweeteners. See Recipe of the Week to get a homemade ice “cream” recipe made with agave or honey-fabulous on top of the Summer Fruit Crisp made with agave and one of the natural sugars above!
Enjoy and Be Well, Lauren Hoover