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sugar alternatives

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“Don’t have too much sugar.” It’s something mothers tell children from a young age, and maybe a sentiment that sticks with adults somewhere in the back of their minds. But who actually counts the grams of sugar they consume every day? Many count calories, but not sugar. However, sugar might have more impact on overall health than calories. The CDC reports that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks on a regular basis is associated with a heightened risk for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, tooth decay, gout, arthritis and liver disease. Suddenly that innocent little soda doesn’t look so innocent, does it?

 

A study published in ScienceDirect reports that the risks of consuming too much sugar can be even worse for African Americans who are already at a heightened risk for the illnesses associated with excess sugar intake. However, Bio Med Central states that as many as one in six African Americans consume more than 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar. With the holiday season upon us, and everyone gearing up to cook favorite desserts and treats, this is a good time to learn about some healthy sugar alternatives for sweetening everything from cookies to beverages.

 

Coconut Sugar

sugar alternatives

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Coconut is almost a magical fruit as it seems to pop up in so many beloved products today from coconut water to coconut oil. You can add coconut sugar to the list of things you love that come from this tropical fruit. Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index – which is important, because consuming foods with a high glycemic index is associated type 2 diabetes. Coconut sugar actually has a dark color and looks a lot like brown sugar. It tastes a bit like caramel, and is excellent for baking as well as for making homemade sweet sauces. Check the label to be sure yours has not been mixed with any added sweeteners.

 

Powdered Erythritol

sugar alternatives

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While this might sound like some science project, it’s really just a type of sugar alcohol found in fruits. The beauty of this sweetener is that it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels and you can typically find it in most major grocery stores in the baking aisle. Many like that this stuff looks and tastes like regular table sugar, so if you are trying to trick any family members into eating healthier, you might be able to swap this in for regular sugar and they’ll be none the wiser.

 

Yacon Syrup

sugar alternatives

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If you’re looking for a way to sweeten baked goods or a smoothie, or for something to pour over pancakes and waffles, look into yacon syrup. It’s much better for you than the sticky, sugary stuff you find in most grocery stores and is even better for you than pure maple syrup, which is actually still quite high in sugar. Made from the yacon plant, this syrup is loaded with things called fructooligosaccharides that feed the good bacteria in gut. In fact, it’s been said to relieve constipation, making it especially useful after consuming many heavy holiday meals. It’s also high in antioxidants and potassium and might lower blood sugar levels, according to an article in the journal on Nutrition & Diabetes.

 

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

sugar alternatives

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Unsweetened cocoa powder is the perfect ingredient for a healthy, comforting hot chocolate because it has zero grams of added sugar. For comparison, just five grams of semi-sweet chocolate chips contain 18 grams of added sugar – and they’re barely sweet. You can use it for many things, too, like chocolate shakes, chocolate frosting, coffee beverages and even as a dusting over baked goods like brownies and cake.

 

Monk Fruit Sweetener

sugar alternatives

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Monk fruit sweetener comes from the extract of the monk fruit and is usually available in either liquid or crystal form, making it great for adding to beverages, smoothies and baked goods. One thing the nutrition community loves about monk fruit sugar is that it doesn’t change blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics to consume. Plus, it has no calories and no carbohydrates but does boast antioxidants. When buying your monk sweetener, check the label to make sure it isn’t mixed with other sweeteners.

 

Fresh Fruit Compote

sugar alternatives

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The holidays are a time of big family breakfasts. Every room is full and everybody gathers around in the morning for piles of pancakes and waffles. So, that leaves the question of what to put on those fluffy, crispy, golden treats. We have your traditional high fructose syrup covered with our yucan syrup alternative, but what about those who like some sweet fruity jam? You can whip up a simple and healthy fresh fruit compote in your own kitchen that’s low on sugar. Simply add your fruit of choice (berries are a good low-sugar option) to a pan over medium heat with a bit of water and one of our healthy sugars from this list (like monk fruit sugar). Stir continuously until it’s reached the desired consistency. You can add water while stirring if necessary.

 

Melted Dark Chocolate

sugar alternatives

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Chocolate syrup is also popular for breakfast items like waffles and pancakes, but it is too high in sugar. Two tablespoons of standard store bought chocolate syrup can contain around 20 grams of sugar, and most put more than just two tablespoons on their pancakes. Grab a bar or morsels of dark chocolate. Keep in mind in order to be true dark chocolate, it must be at least 50 percent cocoa solids and contain no milk, besides trace amounts from manufacturing. Melt it down in a pot over medium heat, stirring continuously. Pour this over your breakfast and baked goods and add a dusting of coconut sugar.

 

Date Paste

sugar alternatives

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Date paste is simply dates that have been chopped and blended up into a paste-like consistency. It’s great for adding moisture and sweetness to baked goods. It’s also great for making raw date balls covered in coconut flakes as a dessert. It is admittedly high in sugar but this is why it makes the list: it’s also packed with fiber, which balances blood sugar levels. One cup of chopped dates offers 12 grams of fiber, which can slow the absorption of the sugar this fruit carries.

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