11 SUGAR ALTERNATIVES – WHICH REPLACEMENT IS THE BEST?
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
When sugar beet is processed, the minerals and vitamins are almost completely lost. Only so-called empty calories remain. In my first blog post about sugar, I told you why I quit it, what health risks sugar brings with it and what advantages it has if we live sugar-free. Today, the alternatives to refined sugar will be discussed.
There are always more and more products on the market that promise to be healthier than the sweet poison. It’s easy to lose the overview. That’s why I want to collect everything for you today and show you how you can best replace conventional sugar. Because one thing is clear: the desire for sweets does not fade away. And that doesn’t have to be the case!
Anyone who wants to eat less processed sugar will prefer natural sweeteners. This includes, for example, thick juices. For this purpose, the juice of apples, pears, grapes and agaves is concentrated into a thick syrup by means of a vacuum process. The minerals, trace elements and sometimes even secondary plant substances contained therein are preserved in large quantities. That sounds really good for now, doesn’t it? The catch: Thick juices have a high fruit sugar content (fructose). And also a fructose intake that is too high can disrupt our metabolism and promote insulin resistance. In addition, too much fructose causes digestive problems for some people.
Stevia is becoming increasingly popular. The sweetener does not affect our metabolism and has no empty calories. But here too, there is a disadvantage: the stevia that we get in trade is not a natural product! Although this is often advertised in a different way, Stevia consists to a large extent of the chemical compounds of the plant – and not only of the plant itself. The sweetener is therefore not permitted for organic trade.
Several studies have shown that xylitol protects against caries. The sugar substitute is therefore used in many tooth-friendly sweets. Originally, xylitol was extracted from Finnish birch. But be careful: Xylitol is increasingly being produced from maize waste. It is therefore important to buy xylitol organically. Otherwise, it may well be that these are genetically modified maize. One advantage of xylitol is that it has almost the same sweetness as sugar and can therefore be replaced 1 to 1. It is also great that xylitol has 40% fewer calories than conventional sugar. Here too, of course, there’s a downside – as you probably thought – because xylitol can quickly cause laxative effects and bloating. In addition, Stevia leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste in the mouth.
I use this xylit from Nu3. You’ll get 30% off with the code NU3ANI30 (I don’t get money for this).
Erythrite has almost no calories and looks like sugar. Anyone who wants to jump in the air now and thinks he has found the solution is mistaken. But let’s first come to the benefits: Erythritol is absorbed to 90% through the small intestine. This means that we return most of it undigested. The remaining 10% of the sugar substitute leads to flatulence, diarrhoea and abdominal pain for many people, which is the big disadvantage. If you want to try this – by the way natural – alternative, you should try it out slowly. You also have to like the taste, which can’t be compared to sugar. Good to know: Erythrite is not quite as sweet as sugar, it has about 70% of the sweetening power. So if you want to bake a cake with it, you have to be prepared to leaf a little more. Erythritol is not cheap compared to other sweeteners.
Coconut blossom sugar is used for sweetening in Asia and is becoming increasingly popular in this country. The glycemic index – which affects blood sugar levels – is said to be 35 times lower than that of household sugar (up to 75). Thus, the insulin level should therefore remain more constant. The problem here: There are no trustworthy studies that prove this.
I use this coconut sugar from Nu3. You’ll get 30% off with the code NU3ANI30 (I don’t get money for this).
Yacon is a root bulb from South America and is one of the oldest useful plants of the Andean inhabitants. The sugar contained in the roots can even support the intestinal flora. Yacon syrup belongs to the group of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). These sugars taste almost as sweet as sugar, but are less calorific. They are also indigestible. So they taste sweet without getting fat. To produce yacon syrup, the juice is first pressed out of the tubers, filtered and evaporated to a syrup consistency. That’s great, of course. Fun Fact: In the EU, the sale of Yacon was banned for many years, as Yacon fell under the so-called Novel Food Regulation and is therefore considered a “novel foodstuff”. It has only been discovered since 2015 that this is a safe foodstuff. The disadvantage of the Yacon syrup is definitely the price: it’s quite juicy.
I use this yacon syrup from Nu3. You’ll get 30% off with the code NU3ANI30 (I don’t get money for this).
Molasses is a by-product of sugar production. As a by-product of sugar, the sugar content of molasses is high. However, it depends on how often the sweetener has been processed. The darker the molasses, the less sugar they contain. The advantage of the black molasses is that it contains many trace elements, secondary plant substances and other healthy ingredients such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Many of these minerals are important for bone metabolism. Attention: In the trade there is more and more molasses, which is no longer black, but much brighter. This contains more sugar and less of the good ingredients. That’s why: Whoever buys molasses should rely on good quality!
Maple syrup is a relatively natural product from Canada to which nothing else is added. More and more, however, sugar water is being added to it in Europe. Because you must know: The name maple syrup is not protected. When buying, it is therefore important to use high-quality organic brands that actually guarantee 100 percent pure maple syrup. Interestingly, maple syrup is officially considered to be of the highest quality the lighter the colour of the syrup. In fact, however, the opposite is important for our health. The darker the colour, the more antioxidants it contains. Although the glycemic index of maple syrup is lower than that of sugar – mainly because it contains more water – it naturally contains fructose. So the following applies here: maple syrup can be used gladly, but only in the right quantities.
Honey is particularly rich in many valuable ingredients: Vitamin C and B, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium are just a few examples. The antibacterial and metabolism stimulating effect of honey is also not to be underestimated. The disadvantage: Honey has many calories and a taste of its own. In addition, it is important to pay attention to where honey comes from. It is recommended to buy only Fairtrade and organic honey. Preferably with a beekeeper you know personally. Because the goods, which come from abroad, are often a luggage of many different kinds. In addition, rice syrup is often added to honey without this being declared. For those who are interested, the series “Rotten” from Netflix is recommended. The first episode is about honey.
WHOLE CANE SUGAR
Whole cane sugar is made from sugar cane and is slightly less sweet than household sugar. It also has a slightly caramel-like taste. This sugar contains even more minerals and trace elements. However, full cane sugar is not a good substitute. It causes blood sugar levels to rise in the same way as white sugar.
Artificial substances include aspartame, saccharin or cyclama. All of these sweeteners have no glycemic index and therefore no calories. They are therefore suitable for diabetics, harmless for teeth and are often used by people who want to lose weight. Sounds all well at first. Here is the big BUT:
Artificial sweeteners do not increase the blood sugar level, but they still have an effect on our body. Studies have repeatedly shown that the pancreas releases insulin as soon as we have the sweet taste on our tongue. It does not matter whether this is really sugar or a sweetener. So the body is deceived. He thinks that now glucose comes into the blood. He’s waiting in vain. That leads to appetite. This in turn can, of course, mean that we eat more than we should actually eat. It should also be noted that it has not been investigated what effects these alternatives have on our bodies. There are doctors who say that these sweeteners should be particularly bad for our eyes.
WHICH SUGAR SUBSTITUTE IS THE BEST?
I have now tried to show you what the pros and cons are for each replacement. Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves what suits them best. But I am happy to tell you what I like best. I still like dates and figs best. Especially when I’m baking. Sure. Fruits – especially dried fruits – also contain sugar. In my opinion, however, this is still better than using household sugar. To get the dates into a shape that is easy to use, I either make my own date mush (just ston the dates, put them in warm water and then purée them with some water, vanilla and salt) or I buy the finished date syrup.
You can also find coconut blossom sugar in my cupboard. But I only use this one very carefully and in small quantities. For example, I like to sprinkle half a teaspoonful on my opened coconut milk, which I make for a Matcha latte.
Yacon syrup is mainly used for sweetening coffee. I’m the classic coffee drinker who can’t go without milk and sweetness. By the way, I use rice milk, because it is naturally sweet and therefore I only need very little of the syrup. If I have some, I also like to use honey. Yes, read correctly. I eat honey. But only if it was produced according to Demeter standards or if I know exactly where it comes from. Say: I know the beekeeper personally.
IT DEPENDS ON THE QUANTITY!
In general, I would like to tell you that none of the substitutes is so healthy that we should use it in huge quantities. It is also not very clever to simply replace all the sugar that she would otherwise have with a substitute. The goal is to find a replacement where you can’t do without the sweetness. In my case this is the case with coffee, for example. Or the chocolate. And in all the desserts I make myself, too. But of course, I don’t eat it every day. I treat myself to a candy once in a while. And really enjoy them.
What I eat every day and don’t want to miss are fruits. Time and again I am asked whether they do not contain sugar. Of course they do. But fruits are part of a healthy and balanced diet, as they contain not only sugar but also many nutrients that are important to us. Generally speaking, it can be said that we should certainly eat more vegetables than fruits. However, there are certainly no objections to 2-3 servings a day. I’d be happy to give you an example. I’m sure I eat a banana and an apple every day. Usually another fruit is added or a few dates. It works quite well for me. Of course, every body reacts differently. You need to find out what’s good for you. But that’s the same with nutrition in many areas, isn’t it?
Well, this has once again become a rather detailed blog post. Short lyrics have never been my strength. I hope that this overview has brought some light into the dark. If you still have any questions, please feel free to ask me directly under the text in a commentary. Then I will be happy to answer that. I’m also happy if you let me know what your favourite is with sugar substitutes.
Love and see you soon,