We all need a little sugar to get us through the day. It’s actually a great source of energy for your body, when used in moderation. Choose one that will offer the most nutritional value to your diet.
The white granulated substance we picture when we hear the word “sugar” is usually a refined sugar derived from either sugarcane or beets. It is comprised of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Table sugar has 45 calories per tablespoon and because of the processing it contains no additional nutritional value.
Unrefined Dehydrated Cane Juice
Boasts minimal loss of original flavor, color, or nutrients. Maintains a slight molasses flavor that is natural to all cane sugar. Dehydrated cane juice contains the most nutritional content of any sweetener obtained from the sugar cane plant; maintaining the iron, calcium. B6, and potassium found in the molasses of the plant. Dehydrated cane juice is lower in sucrose than turbinado or table sugar while being equal in calories.
One of the only sweeteners that is great for everyday use and is available from a local source, completely unprocessed. Maintains nutrients when it skips pasteurization and will often contain pollen. Many have seen improved seasonal allergy symptoms by consuming raw, local honey because of the pollen acting as an inoculation against allergens. Also, honey contains antioxidants. Honey has 64 calories per tablespoon but, because it is sweeter than table sugar you need less making your caloric intake the same or less than table sugar.
It is a minimally processed food, and contains zinc and manganese which support the immune system. These nutrients are found in slightly higher concentrations than in honey. It contains around 50 calories per tablespoon.
Made from the sap of coconut trees, it contains trace amounts of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. The main appeal of coconut sugar is that it is low on the glycemic index. This means coconut sugar is low is glucose and would be a great sugar alternative for diabetics because it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Coconut sugar contains 45 calories, the same as table sugar.
Agave goes through many chemical processes to become a syrup, and is much higher in fructose than even high fructose corn syrup. Some brands of agave may be composed of as much as 92% fructose. Many diabetics choose to use agave, and for good reason. Glucose is the type of sugar that affects diabetics and agave is very low in glucose. Agave is sweeter than traditional table sugar but also contains 20 more calories per tablespoon.
Is ground up date, but doesn’t dissolve so its uses are limited. Date sugar contains 10 calories per teaspoon.
Stevia is 40 times sweeter than sugar in its raw form, which is originally a green herb. This concept makes it seem like a great alternative to table sugar. Unfortunately, Stevia is mixed with processed ingredients, often a sugar alcohol, when it is sold in stores. Because of this, we do not consider the Stevia consumed by most Americans to be a natural sweetener.
Barley Malt and Brown Rice Syrup
Neither contain fructose at all, and are a byproduct of soaking barley or rice. Barley malt is slowly digested, preventing blood sugar spikes unlike most other sweeteners.
Contains much natural, unprocessed sweetness. Fruit also has many additional and valuable nutrients that make it a great food and sugar source.