Let’s face it: we all tend to have a sweet tooth, but there are some fantastic plant-based alternatives to sugar. Refined white sugar is one of the most controversial ingredients in food products and is best to be avoided as much as possible. It’s known to be a health hazard and for good reason!
Not to fret, however, because there are a few great natural sweeteners on the market if you’re looking for some sweeeeeeet alternatives.
Here are our top 5 favorite alternatives to sugar:
Surprisingly, maple syrup is made from maple tree sap that has been boiled down. Sounds strange, but it’s extremely sweet and of course, delicious! Maple syrup contains a number of antioxidants and a small number of minerals such as manganese & zinc! Try it with our plant-based pancakes.
Stevia is made from the leaves of the Stevia plant (part of the sunflower family) and is extremely sweet! It tastes 200-300 times sweeter than refined white sugar, so add sparingly. It’s also a popular sweetener for diabetics to use. A great fact about Stevia is that it’s more environmentally friendly to produce than traditional sugars. It’s even been noted as a zero-calorie sweetener because the calories per serving are so low.
Coconut sugar, also called coconut palm sugar, is extracted from the sap of the coconut palm. Not only is it sweet but it also contains a few healthy nutrients such as zinc, calcium, and potassium as well as some antioxidants. It’s even got a bit of fiber to it. This doesn’t make it a health food by any means but it sure makes it a better option than sugar and is lower on the glycemic index. Try out some coconut sugar in our plant-based edible cookie dough .
Naturally sweet, molasses is made from boiling down sugar cane or sugar beet juice into a thick, syrup-like texture. Molasses contains a few vitamins and minerals, as well as some healthy antioxidants. It’s noted as being a great source of non-heme iron – see our post on iron here. It’s still a form of sugar so be mindful of your consumption and opt for organic versions when possible. As a rule of thumb, generally, the darker the molasses, the more nutrient-dense it is.
Dates are one of the best whole food sweeteners around and have been used as a sweetener for ages. Date syrup is surprisingly easy enough to make at home, by boiling chopped dates, pureeing the liquid, and then squeezing out the liquid. Date syrup contains lots of nutrients and even fiber! Some studies are even indicating that it has antibacterial properties, although more research is still needed. Date syrup can match sugar in a 1:1 ratio in recipes.
When it comes to the sweet stuff, it’s important to remember that the less refined, the better. This way they will still contain some sneaky nutrients like the ones that we have listed above. It’s also important to remember to consume these in moderation as they are still a form of sugar after all.