The best natural alternatives to sugar

Mar 21, 2019

Agave plant

As more and more people are trying to boycott sugar, there is a growing number of natural sweeteners which are becoming increasingly popular and more readily available. Instead of the dreaded white stuff, people are opting for products that are not only more natural in production but more eco-conscious and healthier. In this article, I explore some of the best natural alternatives for sugar.

The best natural alternatives to sugar

Product Calories per tsp (4.2g) Glycemic Index (approx) Sugars per 10g
Sugar 16 Kcal 100 9.9 g
Stevia 0 Kcal 0 0 g
Dates 12 Kcal 50 6.4 g
Honey 13 Kcal 50 8.2 g
Maple Syrup 11 Kcal 54 6 g
Agave Nectar 21 Kcal 15 6.8 g

 

Read on to find out more about how these alternatives are best used.

Stevia

Perfect for: Diabetics

Stevia is extracted from the plant species stevia rebaundiana, which is native to South America. Having been an approved food additive in the EU since 2011, it’s become more popular in our sugar-free products, and in sugar-free baking.

Once processed, it acts very similarly to sugar and therefore it’s a good alternative when you need something to imitate sugar, such as dusting strawberries or adding to hot beverages. More interestingly, stevia does not affect your blood sugar levels, so it is a safe alternative for diabetics.  Unfortunately, though, it has a bitter aftertaste which some find unpalatable.

Dates

Perfect for: Baking

Although they may not be the first place your mind jumps to when you think of sugar, dates are becoming an increasingly common baking ingredient thanks to their intensely sweet flavour. As well as working well in savoury dishes to add a flair of sweetness, dates can be pureed and used as a caramel alternative in bakes.

Bowl of dates

To make date paste from whole dates, all you need to do is remove the pits, soak the dates in water (a couple of hours should do the trick) and puree them in a blender. Then they can be spread on toast, added to bakes as a caramel replacement, or to add sweetness to a dish or even to sweeten your coffee.

Honey

Perfect for: Hot drinks

Honey is one of the first natural sugar alternatives that spring to mind for most people. Being produced by bees from flower nectar, it is not a suitable vegan option, but it does bring a strong flavour profile and is long lasting. In fact, honey is thought to be the only product with an eternal shelf-life.

Noted for it’s healing properties, honey has anti-inflammatory agents, as well as antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It makes a great addition to teas for an extra kick of sweetness, it can be used in a variety of bakes and is also great for soothing a sore throat.

Maple Syrup

Perfect for: Pancakes

Known as ‘liquid gold’, maple syrup is tapped from maple trees and originates in North America. It’s a completely natural product, and thus, it contains a range of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, similar to honey.

Maple syrup is most commonly used as a pancake topping and is a great natural-sugar alternative to the more traditional lemon and sugar. Plus, it pairs well with savoury items like bacon to make a traditional, American breakfast dish!

Agave Nectar

Perfect for: Kolibri

Agave nectar is harvested from the agave plant which comes from Mexico. It looks like and tastes like honey, but with a thinner consistency which makes it great for flavouring drinks. Compared to normal sugar, agave nectar contains more metabolites, vitamins and minerals. It is also vegan-friendly (unlike honey).

Kolibri drops

With its low glycaemic index your drink will never be more than 40Kcal per bottle and you can use as little or as much of the drops as you want, making your drink completely customisable. Kolibri has received the Low Sugar certification from SugarWise so you can be sure that its claims have been independently tested and verified.

For those of us who are trying to cut down on our sugar intake, there are some great natural alternatives out there that can make it a lot easier. And with low-sugar Kolibri on the market, it’s becoming even easier to avoid the white stuff.

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