Reading time: 3 minutesPublished: September 23, 2018
Refined sugar is known to be addictive. It is also detrimental to your health. Artificial sweeteners do more harm than good so that is why more and more people seek natural and healthy substitutes for a sweet taste without compromising on health.
It may sound like a simple thing to cut out sugar but we are programmed to seek out the sweet rewards in our food. We have evolved to favour foods which deliver such tastes. This is something that food engineers have counted on for years, as they create sweet and salty foods that we find irresistible. They rely on a set “bliss point” of an exact proportion of sugar, fat and salt that will have even the strongest willed person salivating and yearning for more. You see, the bliss point in food is the amount of a particular ingredient which optimises tastiness. And the human brain responds with a reward in the form of endorphins, a kind of feel good injection, which makes us remember what we did and then gets us to do it again. This is a great response for food engineers but not so good for us if we are trying to eat consciously and healthily.
Sugar is an easy sweetener to replace in the diet. At the very least white sugar depresses the immune system, quickly increases bloom glucose levels, accelerates aging, increases the risk of diabetes and cancer, increase blood pressure and causes tooth decay… and this is just for starters.
With just a little planning there are a number of natural sugar alternatives which can be just as effective yet can be much healthier to use because they offer added minerals and vitamins, something which white sugar sadly lacks. Refined sugar is known to be addictive so here are my top 6 sugar swaps.
Dates are a great natural sweetener. They are naturally sweet to taste and hence are a great addition to desserts. They contain potassium, calcium and vitamin B6. You can either use dried dates or date sugar, which too retains many of the nutritional benefits of its fruit. It is rich in flavour and a great alternative to brown sugar. Add them to puddings, cakes and desserts.
Raw Honey. Honey possesses antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It has a distinctive sweet taste which makes it a highly preferred alternative to sugar. To reap maximum benefits of this mineral-rich elixir, make sure you use honey that is locally and organically produced. Certain varieties of honey have more calories than sugar; but since it is sweeter than sugar, you will be using it in a lesser quantity.
Maple Syrup. This mineral laden, low calorie syrup is an excellent substitute of sugar in your morning coffee as well. Rich in antioxidants maple syrup is a great addition to your baked goods and is too good to just be used on pancakes.
Agave Nectar is a great alternative to artificial sugar. Also known for being the source of tequila, agave nectar has very low glycaemic value. It is again intensely sweet, so you won’t need it as much as sugar. It has often been praised as a “gift from god”. There seems to be some differing opinions as to whether this sweet alternative is healthier than the sugar it is used to replace. My advice would be to check it our and make your own view. Learn more here
Stevia. It may sound like an artificial sweetener but it is actually a herb, which is about three hundred times sweeter than sugar. It is one of the best alternatives for sugar around. It is natural, and low in carbs and calories. Stevia is low in calories and has practically zero glycaemic effect. It is a great sugar alternative for those trying to shed some weight or who are diabetic.
Tamarind is a fruit that is popular in the foods of Southeast Asia, North Africa and India. While tamarinds are typically sweet and sour in flavour, they tend to become sweeter as they ripen. Tamarinds are common in sweets, chutneys, jams, desserts, steak sauces and Worcestershire sauce. In addition to its high energy and fibre content, tamarind is a great source of B-vitamins and a number of minerals.
If you want to try more, have a go at this quick date ladoo recipe. It doesn’t require any cooking and the little balls can be kept in the fridge until required. It’s a great, sweet snack to have on hand to satisfy that sweet craving.
12 medjool dates
50g mixed nuts (almond, pistachios, walnuts etc)
20g buckwheaties (optional, if not using replace with more nuts)
4 drops of doterra wild orange oil
Chop the dates or bland with a fork until they break down.
Roughly chop the nuts with a sharp knife and combine with the buckwheaties.
Add to the blended dates and combine thoroughly along with the wild orange oil.
Form into balls and chill for 1 hour before eating.
Store in the fridge until required.
These delicious balls are vegan and gluten free. They take less than 5 minutes to make.
Get creative and add your favourite ingredients such as brazil nuts, raisins, cranberries or oats.
Let us know what you choose, we’d love to see your pictures. Refined sugar is known to be addictive so let's get creative.
Written by: Mimi