It's not easy quitting sugar completely, so we asked the Sugar Free Londoner her top sugar alternatives!
We know it's not easy quitting sugar entirely, so we wanted to provide you options for healthier alternatives. Thanks to the Sugar Free Londoner, we didn't have to scour the web ourselves, as she provided us with all the info we needed. Here are her suggestions of natural sweeteners you might like to try. For more information and recipes, visit her website sugarfreelondonder.com
Probably one of the more well-know sweeteners, and contributing to 41% of the sweetener market, commercially processed stevia can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Containing no calories or glycemic impact it is a suitable alternative for diabetics as well as those individuals watching their sugar intake. It can lead to a slightly metallic aftertaste however, so best used in small quantities.
A dental favourite, xylitol is the ingredient found in many sugar free chewing gums as it helps prevent the growth of bacteria, meaning it actually protects your teeth! Xylitol is a sugar alcohol with all the sweetness of common sugars yet 40% fewer calories.
It is important to note that while xylitol has benefits for humans, it's highly toxic to our four-legged friends. Never let your dog or cat (or any other pet) consume xylitol as it can be fatal.
Erythritol is another sugar alcohol which contains only 6% of the calories of sugar, with roughly 2/3 of the sweetness. Our bodies are unable to break it down, so it simply passes through our system. It looks just like sugar, and with virtually no aftertaste, it is a great alternative in baking.
Tasting similar to brown sugar, coconut sugar not only has a low score on the glycemic index, but it also contains antioxidants and vitamins. On the other hand, coconut sugar has almost the same amount of fructose as sugar and around the same amount of calories, so whilst it is a slightly healthier option, it is still not something you should eat everyday!
Honey and Maple Syrup
Whist the heavily processed cheap brands don't provide much benefit, unrefined honey reaps several benefits over sugar; it contains vitamins and antimicrobial properties, and is sweeter than sugar, so less is needed. Maple Syrup also contains plenty of antioxidants and is lower in calories than honey, although it is frequently more expensive. Whilst they have some benefits, honey and maple syrup are both simply a "less bad" sweetener, and again, shouldn't be consumed too frequently.
Whilst Agave has a low Gycemic index, meaning it doesn't cause energy spikes, many dieticians actually consider it worse than sugar. The reason for this is that Agave contains roughly 85% fructose, whereas normal table sugar contains only 50%. Fructose can only be metabolised by the liver, and in large quantities is converted to fat potentially leading to insulin resistance and ultimately, diabetes.
Rice Malt Syrup
Made from boiling brown rice, this alternative is both gluten and wheat free, and 100% glucose which can be metabolised in every cell of the body (unlike Fructose). At the same time unfortunately it has a high Glycemic Index leading to a rapid blood sugar high, and contains more calories than sugar.
Dates and other dried fruit
Dried fruit may be great for adding natural sweetness to food, they are unfortunately very high in calories and sugar, both glucose and fructose. Because all the water has been removed from the fruit, the sugar and calories have become concentrated. Dates are particularly popular in dessert recipes due to their incredible sweetness, and thankfully they carry a host of nutritional benefits - they are a great source of fibre, potassium, iron and antioxidants. On the whole, dried fruit can be a good alternative to table sugar in small amounts and when combined with other nutritious foods.