Let’s talk about sugars. I want to divide them into two groups: the good ones and the bad boys. The consumption of refined white sugar is rising, same goes for artificial sweeteners. This is something what worries me. Nowadays we think having artificial sweeteners like aspartame is a healthier and therefore better substitute compare to white sugar. This is not really the case.
The debate around artificial sweeteners has been going on for some time, especially in regard to their damaging side effects to our health. They range from causing headaches and migraines (!) to trigger mood disorders. These are some serious side effects we can’t look away from.
Refined sugars aren’t healthy either. Side effects of refined sugars include certain types of diabetes and obesity. And not to mention fructose syrup marketed as a natural sweetener, which is simply not true as majority of the production is coming from genetically modified corn, yikes.
The good news is there are natural sweeteners that are healthy and ten times tastier because you eat them in their natural unprocessed form. They even come with added benefits such as anti-oxidants, vitamins and potassium.
The top six natural sweeteners are:
- Raw Honey (1 tablespoon – 64 calories)
- Stevia (0 calories)
- Coconut Sugar (1 tablespoon – 45 calories)
- Maple Syrup (1 tablespoon – 52 calories)
- Blackstrap Molasses (1 tablespoon – 47 calories)
- Brown Rice Syrup (1 tablespoon – 55 calories)
1. Raw Honey
Raw honey is a true super food. It’s full with anti-oxidants, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. These amazing benefits only comes when consuming raw honey. Once it’s pasteurized, it loses most of the healthy benefits. My advise, try to only buy raw honey. The darker the honey, the richer the flavour and the bigger the benefits for your health.
Stevia comes from leaves which are originally grown in South America and used for hundreds of years in that region. The sweetness is 200 times more than sugar. They come in drops, sachet and even tablets. Besides tasting sweet and it’s easy use in all sorts of baking, it has zero calories, say what? Yes it’s the truth. No bad side effects compare to artificial sweeteners, the only catch is its price tag.
3. Coconut Sugar
It’s amazing what you can make from coconuts. This versatile fruit can produce healthy coconut water, creamy coconut milk, subtle coconut flour, fresh coconut meat and even coconut sugar. It has a delicious taste and it’s packed with minerals.
4. Maple Syrup
Pancakes drizzled in maple syrup. That’s how we are familiar with this sweet dark thick syrup. When buying maple syrup, choose the darker, grade B type, they contain more beneficial antioxidants. They are great not only on pancakes but also wonderful to marinade any meat, as a glaze for roasted vegetables or stir some in your homemade granola.
5. Blackstrap Molasses
Organic blackstrap molasses is highly nutritious. All molasses come from raw cane sugar, made by boiling it until it becomes a thick syrup. Blackstrap molasses especially has more nutrients and a richer flavour compare to regular molasses. It has a deep rich flavour also very suitable for marinates and bakes.
6. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup starts with brown rice what is fermented with enzymes to break down the starch. The liquid is then heated until the syrup consistency is reached. It’s also know as rice syrup or rice malt.
Whatever sugars you prefer to use to sweeten your baking and granola. Sugars are still sweet, and sweet means calories (except for Stevia!) Enjoy them in moderation. But if you need to choose one, opt for natural sugars over processed ones, this goes for all foods. Explore and find what natural sweetener you like best.