Published on Sep 26, 2022 and last reviewed on Jan 30, 2023 - 5 min read
This article will cover the details of the substitutes that can be used in place of white sugar in the daily diet and the various recipes.
White sugar or more commonly known as table sugar, refined sugar, or granulated sugar. It is a widely added sweetener used in different foods, including baked products, beverages, desserts, confectionaries, etc. It is obtained from the extracted sugarcane or sugar beet juice. The juice is then boiled to eliminate water from it. As the moisture gets removed gradually, the natural sucrose in the sap begins to crystallize, leaving a sticky brown syrup behind, known as molasses. The crystals are further purified to remove impurities and impart white color to the granules. The white sugar is then obtained, which is purely a natural carbohydrate called starch.
This starchy form comes with its package of adverse effects on health like obesity, the risk for diabetes and heart diseases, cognitive impairment and related diseases, poor oral and dental health, etc., so it is better to avoid consuming it and replace it with suitable substitutes, reducing its intake quantity, or having it only at certain occasions. The sugar replacements can be natural or synthetically manufactured.
Nature has bestowed upon us abundant blessings in various forms. These blessings include a variety of food items, of which some of them can be used as sweeteners, swapping the white sugar. All-natural sweeteners have a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. They do not cause an exponential rise in blood sugar levels, so they are available as healthier options than white sugar. There are some synthetically manufactured sweeteners, too, made from natural sources. They also mimic most of the properties of natural sugar replacements.
The sugar substitutes can be listed as:
Honey: Honey is a dense, golden to brown-colored juice extracted from the beehive. The honeybee feeds on several types of flowers, draws out their nectar, and then collects the honey in its beehive. The components of honey differ among themselves as they depend on the type of flowers the bee had fed on and the type of honeybee. However, all kinds of honey contain small quantities of vitamins and minerals and possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Agave Nectar or Agave Syrup: Agave syrup is a liquid obtained from the juice of the agave plant. It resembles honey and maple syrup. It contains high amounts of fructose, and it can lead to weight gain when consumed regularly, so it should be taken occasionally or in moderate quantities.
Dates: These are soft dried fruits that comprise high amounts of calories, fiber, and nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, selenium, carotenoids, and antioxidants. Paste or syrup of dates can be prepared at home and used in different recipes. Nowadays, dates sugar is also available in the market. It does not cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels, even in people with diabetes.
Coconut Sugar: It is procured from the buds of the flower of the coconut palm, and it is a source of minerals like potassium, zinc, iron, calcium, flavonoids, and certain antioxidants. It is obtained as crystals, is easy to use, and can also be caramelized quickly.
Stevia: It is a natural sweetening agent obtained from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana, a South American plant. It is often sweeter than table sugar, almost 300 to 450 times. It does not contain calories and is stable even with the rise in mercury. It is available as liquid and powder and is appropriate for making beverages. It is also a preferable choice for people with diabetes.
Maple Syrup: It is obtained from maple tree sap by boiling it, and it is stable at very high temperatures. It possesses minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese. Its phenolic compounds provide effects like anti-inflammation and antioxidation. Its glycemic index is slightly lower than refined sugar, so it should be consumed in average quantities. It has a caramel-like flavor.
Molasses: A thick, brown-colored syrup is obtained as a by-product while preparing the white sugar. It is rich in minerals like iron, potassium, calcium, certain vitamins, and antioxidants. However, it should also be used in moderation.
Fruit Puree or Concentrates: Purees or concentrates of different fruits like banana, mango, apple, etc., can sweeten specific recipes for baked food items, but the fruit should be ripened enough to impart the required sweetness. The concentrates are natural sweeteners and have added health benefits to their fruits, like bananas are a rich source of nutrients like folate, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C.
Palm Sugar or Jaggery: It is also obtained from sugarcane or palm while preparing white sugar. It has a caramel-like flavor. It consists of jaggery, so it has health benefits too. The source varies according to the area where it is obtained.
Alcohols of sugar: Sugar alcohols like erythritol, xylitol, and maltitol are a kind of natural carbohydrate present in fruits and vegetables. They have fewer calories and have a more negligible effect on blood sugar levels, so they can be an option for people with diabetes. They have a taste and appearance similar to refined sugar and are more suitable for baked food items. Erythritol can also be caramelized. They do not harm the teeth when chewed. However, when taken in high doses, they may cause digestive issues.
Brown Rice Syrup: It is obtained by fermenting brown rice and is mainly used by vegans in place of honey. It is almost half-sweetened than sugar. It contains small amounts of zinc, manganese, and magnesium. It can be used in beverages, pancakes, puddings, etc. but are not suitable for baked products.
Monk Fruit Sweetener: It is derived from the plant Siraitia grosvenorii, found in China. Monks first cultivated it, so it got its name from there. It is almost 200 to 300 times sweeter in taste than white sugar yet devoid of calories. It provides anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-diabetic, and nephroprotective effects. It can be a part of all recipes as it is stable even at very high temperatures.
Yacon Syrup: It is derived from the plant native to South America called yacon. It is similar to molasses in taste, color, and consistency. It has low-calorie content and is also less sweet than table sugar. Its fructooligosaccharide content serves as prebiotics and gives the feeling of fullness too. However, when consumed in large quantities, it may result in digestive issues.
Allulose: It is a type of sugar that occurs naturally in certain fruits. It tastes like regular sugar, yet, it is deficient in calories and about 70% less sweet. It should be taken in limited amounts, or it may lead to abdominal problems. It may prove highly beneficial to diabetics and other healthy individuals, but more research is required on this subject.
Brown Sugar: It serves as the best replacement for refined sugar when it comes to flavor. It contains a small quantity of molasses. It is brown due to molasses content and is softer and moister than white sugar. It has a caramel flavor.
To make one’s health and diet more nutritious, refined sugar can be cut out completely, and instead, other healthy sugar substitutes can be used. Different replacements have particular properties, so they can be used only in specific recipes and conditions and for certain people, making them universally unacceptable.
Last reviewed at:
30 Jan 2023 - 5 min read
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