July 25, 2020

Everyone has come across the infamous white sugar at some point in time. It is no secret that it is extremely common in today’s culture. White sugar is the most common form of processed sugar, which so happens to also be completely void of nutritional value.

White sugar is often added to food during cooking or processing to enhance the flavor. Added sugars usually (but not always) have a dramatic effect on our blood sugar and insulin levels. That spike in sugar and insulin levels can result in increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, and other metabolic disorders.

The good news is: most problems associated with unhealthy sugars can be avoided, while still enjoying the sweetness it brings to your food.  My advice is to use a healthy substitute.

Are Sugar Substitutes Healthy?

Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Sacchari have no effect on our blood sugar, however, they still come with detrimental side effects.  These include headaches, depression, and increased risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

There are so many complicated definitions of what constitutes a “healthy sweetener.” When it comes to healthy sweeteners, make sure it is:

  • Pure
  • Unprocessed
  • Loaded with nutritional value
  • As close to its raw form as possible

As an added bonus, if the sweetener has a low glycemic index, it can also be beneficial for people who are suffering from diabetes, want to lose weight, improve insulin resistance, or just simply have a blood sugar balance. You can still enjoy the sweetness of sugar without affecting your blood sugar levels or your health by using one of these 5 healthy sugar substitutes.

1. RAW HONEY

Personally, Raw Honey is my sweetener of choice.  It’s the only sweetener out there that hasn’t gone under any processing and is in its pure raw natural form. Make sure you get raw honey preferably from a small local farm so you can guarantee it isn’t being fed sugar to produce more honey. Local honey also helps with seasonal allergies.

Raw honey is a great healthy sugar substitute to incorporate in your daily fix of caffeine, whether that be coffee or tea.  And as always, it’s a good idea to keep things in moderation.

I’ve listed out some of the pros and cons of honey below.

One tsp. of honey contains about

  • 20 calories
  • 5 grams of sugar

Pros:

  • Natural and unprocessed
  • Loaded with nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • High in antioxidants
  • Can help boost your immune system
  • Can help with seasonal allergies
  • Has a moderate glycemic index, so if used in moderation, it can be good for weight control

Cons:

  • Still has some effect on blood sugar so might not be suitable for someone with diabetes or extreme insulin sensitivity
  • Can be expensive to use in large amounts, which reminds us that sweeteners are meant to be used in moderation anyways.

Honey is a good alternative for those who…

  • Need to lose a small amount of weight
  • Want to break their sugar addiction
  • Want to boost their immunity
  • Want to reduce inflammation
  • Want to increase the nutritional value of their food
  • Are highly active individuals who want to boost their energy and improve their overall health

2. YACON SYRUP 

Yacon syrup is naturally extracted from a root vegetable called yukon plant or “Smallanthus Sonchifolius”. It has ⅓ of the calories of white sugar and a much lower glycemic index, making it an ideal option for weight loss management and blood sugar balance.

Yacon root syrup contains a high percentage of “fructooligosaccharides.” These are probiotics that pass through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and remain undigested in order to help feed the gut bacteria.

One teaspoon of yacon syrup contains about:

  • 7 calories
  • 2.5 grams of sugar

Pros:

  • ⅓ amount of calories as a table sugar
  • Low glycemic index
  • Helps with constipation
  • Feeds our healthy probiotics
  • Works great in baking

Cons:

  • Expensive and hard to find
  • Can cause digestive distress like gas and nausea for some people when used in large amounts

This a great alternative for individuals who…

  • Are striving for weight control
  • Trying to balance blood sugar
  • Want insulin resistance

You can get my favorite yacon syrup here.

3. PURE MAPLE SYRUP 

Maple syrup is extracted by boiling the sap of the maple trees. Be cautious with labels when buying maple syrup at the grocery store. Some maple syrups on shelves are a mix of corn syrup and maple syrup! Make sure it’s a 100% pure maple syrup with nothing else added in the ingredients.

One tsp of maple syrup contains about

  • 18 calories
  • 5 grams of sugar

Pros:

  • Provides some trace minerals, like calcium, potassium, zinc and iron
  • Contains more than 24 antioxidants
  • Lower glycemic index than regular sugar
  • Naturally extracted

Cons:

  • High in sugar content
  • Glycemic index not very low

This is a great alternative for individuals who…

  • Are trying to eat a clean healthy diet
  • Want to avoid processed food
  • Want to reduce inflammation and toxic load on the body, but are not too worried about blood sugar and insulin levels

Not for individuals who…

Are suffering from diabetes, insulin sensitivity or have difficulty losing weight.

You can purchase pure maple syrup here.

4. PURE MONK FRUIT

Best Sugar Substitute For Keto

Pure Monk Fruit is a natural, low- glycemic sweetener derived from a melon-like fruit known as “luo han guo.” The health benefits of the monk fruit, such as its anti-inflammatory properties, have been well-known in traditional Chinese medicine, but its popularity has been growing in the U.S. with the rise of low carb and keto diets.

One tsp of monk fruit contains about 

  • 0 calories
  • 0 sugars

Pros:

  • Zero calories
  • Zero carbs
  • No effect on blood sugar or insulin levels
  • Very slight aftertaste
  • 200 times sweeter than sugar

Cons:

  • It’s expensive
  • It’s hard to find pure monk fruit, the majority of monk fruit on the market is actually sugar alcohols with just a pinch of monk fruit

You can find my favorite brand of pure monk fruit here.

This is a great alternative for individuals who…

  • Have diabetes
  • Have insulin sensitivity
  • Are trying to lose weight with a low carb or keto diet

5. PURE STEVIA

Best Sugar Substitute For Diabetics

“Stevia,” a natural sweetener extracted from a plant called “Stevia Rebaudiana,” has been around for ages and was used for its sweetening and medicinal propertiesIt is one of the better natural sugar alternatives for Type-2 diabetics, allowing them to have more control over their carbohydrate and blood sugar levels.

White stevia powder or extract that we usually buy from grocery stores are not actually the natural form of Stevia. It is processed to remove some of the aftertaste which also means it loses a lot of its nutritional value and is not considered a whole food anymore. The majority of stevia on the market is a highly processed extract done through a chemical process and mixed with other ingredients and fillers.

Green leaf stevia is the least processed form. It often has a stronger aftertaste and is not easy to find. It’s made from whole stevia leaves that have been dried and ground. Yet it hasn’t been approved safe by the FDA, and there are some concerns about it having negative health effects on some people

One tsp of stevia contains about 

  • 0 calories
  • 0 sugars

Pros:

  • Zero glycemic index — no effect on blood sugar or insulin — making it a great option for people suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance or want to lose weight.
  • Zero calories and doesn’t really add much to your caloric intake.
  • Great for enjoying a treat without affecting your weight negatively
  • A 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar

Cons:

  • Has a strong aftertaste
  • Highly processed
  • Usually sold with added fillers and additives

This is a great alternative for individuals who…

  • Have diabetes
  • Have insulin sensitivity
  • Are trying to lose weight with a low carb or keto diet

You can find my favorite type of stevia extract here.

Check out this comparison chart for a quick view

Sweetener per tsp.CaloriesSugarsGlycemic indexNutritional value
White sugar16465None
Raw honey19550Very high
Yacon syrup72.51Medium
Maple syrup18554Medium
Coconut sugar15435Medium
Monk fruit000low
Pure stevia 000low

 

SUGAR ALTERNATIVES FOR BAKING

For the majority of people, baked desserts is the most significant source of processed sugar and sweeteners.  The aforementioned sugar substitutes are great alternatives for baking. Regularly substituting these healthy sugar alternatives into your deserts could mean a world of improvement to your health.

THE BOTTOM LINE…

Honey and maple syrup used in moderation are great for someone trying to eat a healthy clean diet, and enhance the nutritional value of their food, but aren’t really worried so much about the sugar and carb content, like kids, very active people, and those who have no weight or blood sugar issues. Monk fruit, stevia and yacon syrup are better alternatives for people who suffer from diabetes, insulin sensitivity or struggle with weight loss.

Regardless of what sweetener you end up choosing, always remember that a sweetener is a sweetener! It’s not meant to substitute your daily meals, or be used to make daily desserts. Instead these alternatives are there to help you find a healthier way to enjoy your occasional treats, and the word occasional is key here.

Breaking sugar cravings requires getting to the root cause of why you feel the need to have regular sugar, and this can only be done by fixing the problem, not substituting it with a different option. Even with healthier options it’s not a green light to overdo it, moderation is key!

To help you kick start your sugar-free journey, here are some of my favorite delicious sugar-free dessert recipes:

 

 

 

If you are having trouble easing off of sugar cravings, my detox program could be a huge lifesaver.  It will open you up to different foods that will let you hit two birds with one stone by fulfilling your craving and staying healthy.

Aayah Khalaf is a highly trained and certified health coach from IIN based in Washington. She’s the CEO of BeeNourished, a health coaching initiative dedicated to improving the health and lives of Muslim women and mothers. Her passion is helping women transition into healthier lifestyles so that they can look and feel their best, as well as enjoy optimum health. You can follow her @BeeNourished on Instagram and Facebook, visit her website at BeeNourished.com, and contact her at Beenourished@beenourished.com!

Sourced from Layali Blog, head over to her blog for a lot of amazing content.

Layali Blog’s goal is to empower and support modern Muslims to go after their dreams by providing them with inspiration, motivation, and positivity to help them become the best version of themselves.

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About the author 

Aayah Khalaf

A health coach and detox specialist, CEO and founder of Bee Nourished a health and weight-loss initiative. I help women and mothers achieve their health and weight-loss goals with life changing programs that are uniquely yours.

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