You've probably heard by now that refined white sugar is one of the worst evils lurking in our cupboards. Sure, you can still make the occasional indulgences when baking our beloved sweet treats, but for the most part, we're all better off limiting our white sugar intake.
With "healthy" food now being an industry, it isn't always simple to distinguish truly healthy options from unhealthy items marketed as healthy.
Our editor Kortney went on a little natural sweetener binge to discover which are the best and for what purpose. Her thoughts of "natural" had an overhaul and she learned foremost that not all sweeteners are created equally. Here are our top five truly healthy sweetener picks.
1. Date Sugar
Mashed, blended, made into homemade sugar—the possibilities for dates are endless. From a nutrition perspective, dates are loaded with healthy fiber and make a great alternative for sugar-sensitive folk and diabetics, as it doesn't raise blood sugar significantly. We love including dates in morning smoothies and mashed in baking recipes. We are pretty much date crazy.
2. Coconut Sugar
Coconut milk, coconut flour and now coconut sugar—these fruits (and nuts and seeds, botanically speaking) are changing the way we eat. Coconut sugar is delicious proof that natural can taste good. Coconut works fantastic for all uses, but it gives coffee and tea a particularly exotic (and amazing) flavor. If you can't find coconut sugar at your local health store, Amazon is loaded with easy-to-ship options.
3. Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup is not only for pancakes. It is a great addition to baking recipes and an extra sweetener to almost any meal. Loaded with special antioxidants known to prevent several diseases, including Alzheimer's and certain types of cancers, maple syrup is a sweet superfood. I particularly love a tablespoon on my morning bowl of oatmeal, or even as a sweetener in raw chia pudding (a very healthy breakfast option).
4. Organic Honey
Honey is one of earth's sweetest antioxidant-loaded miracles. A timeless superfood, honey is great for sweetening tea, coffee and can easily be incorporated into most baking recipes.
Editor's tip: If you're flying long distance, eat a spoonful of local honey and it is rumored to lessen the severity of jetlag symptoms.
This one is surprisingly one of the healthiest refined sugar alternatives out there. Derived from the Stevia rebaudiana herb, this natural sweetener is available in most markets and is an easy substitute for sugar in all cooking and baking recipes. Admittedly, I was originally off-put to this one because the name sounds a bit foreign (meaning possibly chemical-derived and processed), but this option is indeed mega-healthy.
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