Sugar Alternatives

With a world of options on supermarket shelves  now and conflicting information on the internet.  I asked our clinical nutritionists Jacinta Peronace for the low down on sugar alternatives. 

Raw honey
Lower in free fructose and higher in trace minerals.
Has antimicrobial properties and contains enzymes.
More calories than normal sugar.

Brown rice syrup
Made from boiling brown rice. The syrup is gluten and wheat free.
Suitable for baking or for drizzling over pancakes or porridge.
Butterscotch flavour.
May contain high levels of arsenic depending on where rice was grown.
Not suitable for adding to coffee or tea.
Heavily processed

Coconut sugar
Higher nutrient content and lower glycemic index than most sugars.
Tastes similar to brown sugar, but is slightly richer.
Distinctive coconut flavour.

Xylitol
May help prevent the growth of bacteria.
Naturally found in fibrous fruits and vegetables, corn cobs and some hardwood trees.
Man-made chemical. In a number of foods, such as gum and supplements.

Molasses
Rich in vitamins and minerals.
Blackstrap molasses is the most beneficial and is a good source of iron and calcium.
“Waste” product from production of refined sugar.
Produced from and sweeter than sugar.
Rich flavour. Not suited for all recipes because it is thick and viscous.
Be sure to select unsulfured, organic sugarcane molasses.

Dates
High in fibre and other nutrients and tryptophan.
If using whole, the Medjool dates are best.
To make date paste, blend or cook fresh dates with a little water over low heat or soak for several hours prior to blending.
Buy organic and sulfite free.

Maple syrup
Beneficial as a sweetener in baking and in fruit-based recipes. Don’t forget to reduce other liquids by about a quarter.
High in minerals and nutrients.
Best to buy organic and in glass.  Conventional maple syrup may actually be coloured water or contain formaldehyde.

Barley Malt Sugar
Similar to molasses in texture with a malty taste.
Ideal for baking in bread.
Easily digested with a low glycemic index.
Food intolerances may occur.
Poor choice in coffee and tea.

Yacon (Jerusalem artichoke)
Rich in iron and only mildly glycemic.
Generally available as dehydrated chips and as a syrup.
Ensure organic.

Stevia
May be sweetener of choice for those with diabetes, candida or cancer.
Green leaves are better than the white extract.
It is very sweet, so you only need a small amount. (A pinch = 1 tsp. sugar)
Stevia is often mixed with other fillers. Be sure to read labels.