Diabetes is directly related to the increased consumption of sugar among the masses. Lifestyle diseases have now taken an epidemic form, with millions suffering from ailments like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. People all over the world have started consuming way too much sugar. Therefore, the search for the safest artificial sweetener has been on the rise too. Thankfully, now we have the healthiest sweetener substitutes that can help cut back on sugar consumption, so long as you choose the correct ones.
Safest Artificial sweetener
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, ace-K and saccharin have been banned for years because of their potentially damaging effects on health. Although all these sweeteners are technically safe and sugar-free, all these sugar substitutes have recently come under increased scrutiny. So, which is the healthiest sweetener and the best alternative to natural sugar?
What is the Healthiest Sweetener to Use?
The benefits of various sugar substitutes vary widely, but one thing that connects all is that they are all-natural substances. Some experts prefer fruit-based substitutes because they are natural products, and no empty calories are involved. However, it’s a matter of personal opinion and depends on the individual health needs.
Natural sweeteners may contain calories, but they all include some important nutrients. For example, honey, maple syrup and molasses contain beneficial ingredients, such as enzymes, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. In addition, artificial Vanilla is added in recipes to reduce the sugar needed for sweetening.
Calories content of sugar substitutes
You can choose your safest artificial sweetener as per your liking from the following table. It shows the calorie content of some of the most popular natural sweeteners:
- Honey: 1 tablespoon has 64 calories
- Stevia: It has 0 calories
- Dates: One Medjool date has 66 calories
- Coconut sugar: 1 tablespoon has 45 calories
- Maple syrup: 1 tablespoon has 52 calories
1. Raw Honey
Raw honey is undoubtedly a superfood and also the healthiest sweetener. It’s packed with enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin. These are essential nutrients that help neutralize free radicals and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
After pasteurization, honey loses many vital properties. One tablespoon of natural honey has less effect on glycemic load than a single banana. Hence, always look for raw and locally manufactured honey. Try to procure it directly from local beekeepers. Choose the darker variety of honey because it has a richer flavour and greater nutritional benefits.
How to use raw honey?
Don’t use raw honey for cooking or baking. Instead, spread it on your cereals or over your sprouted grain toast. Raw honey is a great alternative to molasses. Honey isn’t only ideal for tea and the best healthiest sweetener for coffee.
Stevia is mainly grown in South America and has been used as a natural sweetener for hundreds of years. It maintains healthy blood sugar levels and also helps in rapid weight loss.
Stevioside is the base ingredient that is 200 times sweeter than ordinary sugar. It’s available in liquid form, powder, tablets, and baking blends. Most importantly, unlike artificial sweeteners, it has zero calories, no carbohydrates and no side effects.
How to use Stevia?
Unlike honey, Stevia is heat-stable. Therefore, you can freely use it in any way you desire. Remember, Stevia is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Use it in moderation.
Dates are rich in potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and vitamin B6. They can be easily digested and help in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Dates also help reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol in your blood and thus reduce the risk of brain strokes and heart attacks.
How to use dates?
Ideally, dates are minced to make a paste. They are mostly used one-to-one in most recipes, unlike Stevia, which adds bulk for baking. Soak Medjool dates in hot, warm water till it becomes soft. Put the soaked dates in the food processor and add one tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Blend it into a smooth paste. You can add extra water to create a thick, rich paste.
4. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is a versatile natural sweetener and is also readily available. It contains polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous, and other phytonutrients. Many people are increasingly using coconut sugar as a natural sweetener because of its low glycemic index and rich mineral content.
How to use coconut sugar?
You can use coconut sugar in your favourite recipes just like ordinary sugar. However, it’s slightly coarse than refined sugar. Add coconut sugar as per the requirement of a recipe in your food processor, and give it a whirl until you get the desired texture.
5. Maple Syrup
It’s native to North America and is available in either grade A or B. Some people consider Maple syrup the healthiest sweetener and one of the best natural sugar substitutes. Maple syrup is rich in antioxidants and helps neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage to the body. It’s an excellent source of manganese, calcium, potassium and zinc.
How to use maple syrup?
It’s heat-stable. Therefore, you can use it virtually for any application. Add it to marinades, sauces, or glazes or sauces. Maple syrup is also ideal for baking. Besides, you can use it in your homemade granola and for a morning cup of coffee or tea.