If there is one thing that makes all of you happy it’s a delicious sweet recipe with the words ”sugarfree” in the description. But what about natural sweeteners? Some of you comment that nothing really sweet is actually ever sugarfree and others will say there is a difference between refined white sugars and natural sweeteners such as dates. My recipes are all sugarfree, which means I only use natural sweeteners. But like I always say sugar is still sugar and ”every ingredient should make sense”. So, what is the best natural sweetener? And should all natural sweeteners be considered equally good (or bad)?
Which natural sweeteners are there?
There are a lot of sweeteners these days, here are a few. Maple syrup, raw honey (not vegan), blackstrap molasses, date sugar/syrup, coconut sugar, sucanat, xylitol, stevia extract, brown rice syrup, and agave. There are more sweeteners, but I think these are the most common. And although they are all natural, there is a huge difference between these sweeteners.
When it comes to nutritional value, it is safe to say sugar, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and corn syrup are equal because they have basically NO nutritional value. And maple syrup is worse than honey (nutrition wise). Actually all are just sugar, empty calories. Maybe not as harmful as refined white sugars, but still empty calories. Stevia (the real stevia) appears to be harmless as long as you don’t eat too much, but I personally don’t like the taste that much. I also have xylitol and erythritol in my cupboard (both are a form of ”sugar alcohols”), but these sugars can cause bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. This is because the sugar alcohol is not completely absorbed in the digestive tract and this can cause fermentation in the intestines. However, erythritol seems to be not only an antioxidant, but also better for the gut (no absorption problems). I actually hardly use ”sugar alcohols”, simply because there are better alternatives for me.
The two best natural sweeteners
Which sweeteners do actually make sense and have a nutritional value? The best natural sweetener at the moment are dates or date sugar/date syrup/date paste. Dates are a whole plant food, it has fibre and comes as a package.
Also, blackstrap molasses actually has significant nutritional value. It might be slightly more bitter than date sugar though due to the low sugar content, but I find it very tasty (tastes like licorice). Blackstrap molasses contains vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and even selenium.
I know I get my dates from a reliable seller, but since dates are sticky and debris can easily stick to it, I always peel them under running water. Also, if you think your dates may be dipped in sugarwater peeling of the skin of the dates can remove some of the sugars that stick to the skin.
All in all, there are some great natural sweeteners and there is absolutely no need to use white refined sugars. But having that said, I believe we all should be careful with the amount of sugar in our diets (also with the natural healthy sugars). It can trigger a sugar addiction, especially if you are a former sugar junkie just like me. Your brain ”tastes” something sweet, so make sure you’re not eating something sweet in quantities that can trigger you into a sugar addiction (again). Like I always said, one teaspoon of maple syrup leads to two, which leads to three and before you know it you’re eating a (vegan) chocolate bar a day loaded with white refined sugars….
What is your favorite natural sweetener?
photos by the green creator (c) (copyright)