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5 Natural Sweeteners to Add to Your Diet

by Kelsey Lay
natural sweetener - maple syrup

Do you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without adding empty calories or chemicals to your diet?

If so, you may want to try natural sweeteners.

That’s because even though you may love the taste of sugar, studies have shown that too much can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. This is especially true if the sugar doesn’t come from a natural food source, such as fruit.

natural sweeteners - maple syrup

And even though it’s common sense to avoid too much refined sugar in your diet, there’s still debate about the safety of replacements such as saccharin and aspartame based artificial sweeteners, which some believe could pose even more of a health risk.

So get more nutrition and less artificial stuff in your diet by trying natural sweeteners. Just remember, though, everything in moderation…

5 Natural Sweeteners Without the Nasty Chemicals

1. Honey

Honey is a natural superfood containing a multitude of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Manuka honey in particular is thought to have special antibacterial properties, which may help fight off colds and prevent gingivitis.

Honey is also known to help reduce anxiety, and treat indigestion. It’s one of the best natural sweeteners to use in nearly any bread or pastry recipe, and its high carbohydrate content makes it a perfect post-workout snack.

Related Article: Health Benefits of Honey

2.  Agave Nectar

One of the more popular natural sweeteners is agave nectar, which is extracted from the cactus-like agave plant. It works well in place of sugar in beverages such as herbal tea or homemade lemonade, and can also be used as a breakfast syrup.

Because of its low glycemic index, agave nectar will not cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar levels. However, use with caution, as it has high levels of fructose (fruit sugar) which have been linked to increasing levels of Type 2 Diabetes, and so is best used sparingly.

3.  Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is made from sap extracted from the coconut tree. Its flavor is often compared to brown sugar with a hint of caramel, so it works well as a substitute for sugar in desserts.

Manufacturers of coconut sugar claim that it is a low glycemic food, and so it takes longer for the digestive system to break it down into glucose. It is also high in glutamine which is claimed to be an anti-inflammatory agent.

4.  Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is extracted straight from the sap of the maple tree. It contains zinc, magnesium and iron, and helps to boost the immune system. It also contains antioxidants that are reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.

Maple syrup can be used to top pancakes, sweeten oatmeal, or used as an alternative to sugar or molasses in baking. But beware, some cheaper brands add high fructose corn syrup or other sugars to the product, so it’s always worth checking the label to make sure you’re buying 100% pure maple syrup. Cheaper products are no better for your health than ordinary refined white sugar.

Related Article: 37 Superfoods to Start Eating Today

5.  Stevia

Stevia is one of the few pre-packaged sugar alternatives that are not chemically processed. It comes from the leaves of the Stevia plant and is sold in powder and liquid form. Stevia tastes sweeter than sugar, so even a small amount can sweeten any dull food or snack.

Because stevia is a calorie-free food, it’s a great alternative to table sugar for anyone monitoring their diet or trying to lose weight. However, be sure to avoid buying any product which has been mixed with sugar or xylitol if you want the best value for money.

Out of all the natural sweeteners available, Stevia is likely the best if you’re watching your waistline.

Related Article: Health Benefits of Stevia

The Takeaway

Natural sweeteners can help you get your sweet-fix with the bonus of added nutrition. So instead of reaching for a treat loaded with processed sugar or artificial chemicals, try one of these alternatives to get a little more nutrition from your sweet treats.

Featured photo by Chiot’s Run

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