Natural sweeteners are sugar sources that are in a close to pure state. The less refined the better, as they will still contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and some fiber. Natural sweeteners should still be eaten in moderation though as they are still sugar and can cause fluctuations in mood and energy.
The Five Best Natural Sweeteners1. Stevia is a leafy herb and approximately 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar, however stevia contains almost no calories. It can be used in baking and cooking and to sweeten beverages. It is low glycemic and has minimal impact on blood sugars. However not all stevia products are equal. Many shop bought stevia products contains preservatives or other sweeteners, so make sure you are buying 100% pure stevia. Sweet Leaf pure liquid stevia is a good choice.
2. Honey is the oldest natural sweetener, and is actually sweeter than sugar so will have a similar impact on blood sugars. However unlike sugar, honey also has other beneficial properties. Honey is
antimicrobial and antibacterial, and contains trace minerals. It can also help to support your immune system against common allergens.
4. Coconut Sugar Is made from the flower buds of a coconut tree. Coconut sugar is nutrient dense ( in comparison to other sugars) and contains zinc, calcium, Iron, SCFA, Polyphenols, and antioxidants. It also contains fibre helping to reduce the release of glucose and maintaining blood sugar control, however it does contain similar calories and carbhoydrates to regular sugar.
5. BlackStrap Molasses is a nutritious sweetener dervied from sugar cane and made by a process of boiling. The longer it is boiled for, the less sweet, more nutritious and darker the product. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium and has minimal impact on blood sugarsYou will notice that I haven't included Agave Syrup - Although though marketed as a ‘healthier’ alternative to sugar, agave is highly refined and contains 90% fructose. Fructose is more likely to be stored as fat, meaning that it does not curb cravings and can lead to weight gain.
I also love using dates and date paste ( blending dates and water) ripe bananas & cinnamon for baking and adding sweetness.
What is your favourite sweetener?