When we pull out our mums’ or grandmothers’ recipes, the amount of sugar in the sweet treats is considerable – and probably unnecessary in those quantities. Refined sugar is on the hit list of most dieticians, but there are a number of natural alternatives you can use to replace sugar in your diet. Nutritionists say that using these healthier products can lower your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Extracted from the same plant from which tequila is made, agave nectar is sweeter than normal sugar. You only need to use a small amount.
Brown rice syrup
With a taste similar to a light honey, brown rice syrup is made by treating whole grain rice with enzymes.
As the name suggests, date sugar is made from dehydrated, ground dates. It can’t be used as an alternative for refined sugar in your tea or coffee as it doesn’t melt, but it can be used for baking.
Tasting very much like sugar but only containing six per cent of the calories, Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and an excellent alternative to refined sugar.
Used for centuries to promote many health benefits, honey – in particular, Manuka or raw honey – is one of the most popular natural sweeteners available.
A concentrated sticky syrup made from the sap taken from maple trees, it is a good alternative to use in your cooking.
Molasses is created as a by-product when sugar cane is processed to make refined sugar. So while it is still sugar, the amount you will use in your cooking will be much less than when using refined white sugar.
With its zero calorie content and low glycaemic index, lo han kuo (more popularly known as monk fruit) is a great alternative to sugar. The sweetener is extracted by crushing the monk fruit and infusing it with hot water, which results in a light-brown powder.
Extracted from the leaves of a plant found inParaguay andBrazil, Stevia is a natural sweetener that is available in both liquid and powder form. Its sweetness is around 300 times that of sucrose from sugar, so you will use a lot less when adding it into your dishes.
With a sweetness similar to sugar, Xylitol is a sugar extracted from corn or birch wood and found in many fruits and vegetables.
Are you trying to cut refined sugar from your diet? What natural products have you used instead of sugar?
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.