Top 10 Healthy Alternatives to Sugar

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Obesity and disease can result from an addiction to sugar. Despite nutritionists’ warnings, Americans continue to consume way too much of it.

Sugar is an addictive sweetener that delivers a lot of calories without any vitamins or minerals. It contains fructose, which the body turns into a substance called glycogen that becomes fat and accumulates in the liver. Excessive sugar intake may lead to cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Fortunately, a number of natural sweeteners are available as alternatives. Here are some of the most popular choices.

1. Honey

Before processed sugar came along, honey was one of the world’s favorite sweeteners. Despite containing more calories than sugar, it is packed with vitamins. Honey tastes great, and helps ward off bacteria, fungi and illnesses.

2. Maple Syrup

Though it is rather expensive, maple syrup is a great option due to its wonderful flavor and healthy properties. It perks up pancakes, waffles and pastries. Some cooks use maple sugar, a product of dehydrated maple syrup.

3. Fruit juice

Baked goods like cookies and cakes do not have to be loaded with processed sugar. Fruit juice is just as effective in adding sweetness. It is important to read labels to ensure that the products do not contain added sugar. Juices from concentrate do not have as many nutrients.

4. Molasses

The heating process involved in processing sugar results in leftover molasses, which has more nutrients than the crystals used in packaged sugar. The healthiest choice for baking, blackstrap molasses, provides high doses of iron and calcium.

5. Stevia

This delicious herb, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, is growing in popularity. Stevia is a favorite of diabetics because it is free of calories. It can be purchased as a powder, or grown in a flower pot at home.

6. Xylitol

Often found in chewing gum as a bacteria fighter, xylitol also is used to sweeten food. It is a natural extract of fruits, vegetables and hardwood trees. The human body produces xylitol, as well. Purchased as an additive, it costs more than sugar but has no known negative qualities.

7. Brown Rice Syrup

Obtained by boiling brown rice, this sweet syrup tastes like butterscotch. It contains no wheat or gluten. Muffins and other baked goods, pancakes and salad dressings are among the foods to which brown rice syrup is typically applied.

8. Coconut Sugar

A similar process is employed to make coconut sugar. Sap from the tree is heated until the water is gone, leaving nutrient-rich granules. Also like brown rice syrup, coconut sugar has a low glycemic-index score.

9. Date Sugar

Dates provide many nutrients, as well as a type of sugar that tastes somewhat like brown sugar. This sweetener is frequently found in breads and cookies.

10. Barley Malt Syrup

Bakers and brewers of beer use this syrup. It is a safe choice for diabetics and people with digestion problems, though not as sweet as white sugar.

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