Refined sugar has a really bad reputation. According to some reports, sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Many of us consume much more sugar than we should, and some of us don’t even know we’re doing it.
The charity, Action on Sugar suggest on their website that the recommended daily amount of sugar should be around 7 teaspoons for the average adult – about the amount in a small glass of fruit juice and a flavoured yoghurt each day.
But many of us love the sweet stuff, so how do we make sure we are staying within the suggested limits without forgoing some of life’s most tastiest treats?
Thankfully there are natural sugar alternatives available that can mean we still enjoy the sweet taste, without putting our health at risk.
Natural Sugar Alternatives
Maple syrup should be used in moderation as it still contains high levels of fructose, but a little goes a long way with this sweet tasting refined sugar alternative. Try to buy real 100% Maple Syrup and not maple flavoured syrup. Maple syrup is full of antioxidants, as well as containing decent levels of zinc and manganese. It also contains more honey than calcium.
Stevia is probably one of the most talked about natural sugar alternatives and can be easily found on the supermarket shelves. But Stevia isn’t a new discovery, it has been used to sweeten foods for many years. Originating from South America, stevia is often made from extracts of the plants. You can use the raw leaves too, which have more health benefits, but they can have a bitter taste to them.
Stevia is much sweeter than refined sugar so you won’t need to use nearly as much in recipes.
Raw honey is a popular choice. As with maple syrup, a little goes a long way, and it’s worth limiting how much you add if you are watching your calorie intake. Raw is best in terms of health benefits rather than when it has been pasteurised. If you want to ensure you keep as many of the vitamins and nutrients as possible it is best not to heat it – just drizzle it on top of cakes or add to smoothies.
If I fancy a cake I usually check to see if we have any ripe bananas. They are naturally sweet and it means I rarely need to add any extra sugar. Banana bread is really easy to make and is ideal as a healthy snack.