There are numerous sweeteners on the market so it's understandable there is confusion on which are the best to choose. Choosing a natural sweetener is ideal since they are less processed and can even provide nutritional benefits.
Raw honey is a natural sweetener that is easily available. Honey has been used as a sugar substitute for centuries. Put a drizzle of honey on your morning oats or plain yogurt for a touch of sweetness. Honey reigns superior among natural sweeteners since it contains vitamins and minerals as well as significant levels of antioxidants. One teaspoon of honey is only about 20 calories.
Most people think about using maple syrup only when they are baking bread or pancakes; however, it can be used as a substitute for sugar in many ways. Pure maple syrup provides numerous vitamins and minerals including manganese and zinc. It also has a lower glycemic index than sugar.
Stevia is a sweet tasting natural herb and it can be found in a variety of foods. Though it is not available as a sweetener, it can be bought as a dietary supplement. The supplement is made from the extract of the sweet leaves of the stevia plant. It can be safely used in tea, coffee, sweets and other foods and it is zero calories. It is considered about 10 times sweeter than sugar so you can use it in small amounts.
Blackstrap molasses is not as well-known as other natural sweeteners, but it is a very nutritious option containing calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and iron. Blackstrap molasses is the liquid extracted during the process of refining sugar cane. It contains approximately 16 calories per teaspoon.
Coconut sugar, also known as coconut sap, has become more popular in recent years, and for good reason. Coconut sugar can be substituted for cane sugar in a one to one ratio. Coconut sugar is not stripped of its nutrients like many sweeteners on the market and is a good source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Similar to maple syrup, it is also a low glycemic index sweetener.
Kristen Bourque, RD, LD has been writing health-related articles since 2000. Her nutrition articles and recipes have been featured in "Today's Dietitian" as well as the Canadian magazine "Glow". Kristen combines her love of nutrition with cooking on her personal blog, Swanky Dietitian.