We all know sugar is not the healthiest food. Sugar can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Many health conscious people are turning to natural sweeteners to keep their food and beverages sweet. The most popular forms of natural sweeteners are:
Stevia – This sweetener comes from a South American plant and is a zero-calorie sugar substitute that’s 100 percent natural. While it’s 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia doesn’t cause a spike in blood glucose levels—sparing you the crash that follows a spoonful of the white stuff. It also has other benefits such as treating diabetes, hypertension, dermatitis, digestive problems and flu.
Agave Nectar – Agave Nectar is taken from the sap of the blue agave plant and converted into syrup. This sweetener is 33 percent sweeter than sugar and tastes similar to honey. Agave nectar is high in fructose, so use in moderation. It is approved by the FDA as a natural sugar substitute and can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.
Honey – Raw honey is a natural sweetener that is readily available. This yummy stuff packs a powerful antioxidant punch and can protect your body from a variety of illnesses. It’s low on the glycemic index and ideal for those that want to lose weight. It can also treat insomnia, help wounds heal, and promote digestion.
Maple Syrup – Maple syrup can be used for more than just pancakes! It comes directly from a plant’s sap and is rich in antioxidants. Real maple syrup also promotes the health of the heart, boosts the immune system and lowers the risk of prostate cancers. It can be used for making cookies, cakes or homemade granola.
Date Sugar – This sweetener is an extract taken from dehydrated dates. Dates have a low glycemic index and add a subtle sweetness. Date sugar contains essential minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium. It is effective in improving cognitive functions, maintaining healthy blood pressure and relieving migraines, asthma and sore muscles.
Brown Rice Syrup – When brown rice is cooked with barley, the result is a liquid. With a lower glycemic index than high-fructose corn syrup, this nutty-tasting syrup is perfect for baking breads and homemade granola. It is not as sweet as sugar, but has fewer calories per teaspoon, making it a great substitute for anyone watching their weight.