We all love a little something sweet now and then, but unfortunately the negative health effects of processed cane sugar is a bitter truth we can’t ignore. And of course, artificial sweeteners like aspartame can be even worse, as they’re packed with harsh chemicals and carcinogens. Luckily, we’ve got some sweet solutions for our Faithful readers – a long list of natural, plant-based sugar alternatives that are so much better for you and your family.
Whether you’re cooking, baking or simply looking to sweeten your morning cuppa, you’ll find the perfect healthy and natural sweetener here. Choose your favourite and enjoy – without the guilt!
The blue agave is a native Mexican plant, famously used to make tequila; however it’s also the source of agave sugar and syrup. This pure natural sweetener tastes a lot like molasses or honey, and was prized by the ancient Aztecs as a gift from the gods. With a low GI and very low calorie content, agave sugar is the sweetener of choice for diabetics and slimmers; it’s also about 30% sweeter than regular sugar, which means you don’t need to use nearly as much.
Great for cooking or baking, this natural unrefined syrup has a sweet malty tastes and a low glycaemic index (GI). Barley malt syrup is a great source of energy, and has a high protein content as well.
Much like jaggery, pure molasses is derived from sugar cane plants, but without the processing and chemical contamination that ordinary sugar undergoes. Blackstrap molasses is a great source of energy and minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium; it also has a much lower GI than regular sugar. Blackstrap molasses is thick and smooth like syrup, with a delicious bittersweet flavour.
A gluten-free natural sweetener extracted from boiled brown rice. Use it as an ingredient in cooking or baking, or as a topping for pancakes and desserts.
This caramel-coloured sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm; it tastes a lot like brown sugar and contains roughly the same amount of calories and carbs as ordinary cane sugar. However, it has a lower GI and is much higher in nutrients, containing significant amounts of zinc, potassium, calcium, fatty acids and antioxidants. Plus, coconut sugar is much lower in unhealthy, fattening fructose than ordinary sugar. While table sugar is typically 50% fructose, coconut sugar is 70 to 79% sucrose, with only around 9% glucose and fructose.
Good old honey is a much-loved alternative to sugar and syrup; sweet, delicious and full of nourishing goodness. Be sure to choose honey in its raw form, with no added sweeteners or chemicals, for maximum health benefits. With antibacterial and antiviral properties, a spoonful of raw honey is the perfect natural remedy for a cold or a sore throat.
This is an unrefined form of cane sugar, made from the sap of the sugar cane plant using a simple evaporation process. Unlike normal table sugar, jaggery is free of added chemicals and bleaches. It’s also a good source of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron. A great choice for the health-conscious baker.
A deliciously distinctive natural liquid sweetener, made from maple tree sap. Maple syrup has a low GI and won’t cause blood sugar spikes; it’s high in potassium, and free of the artificial additives and chemicals found in processed table sugar.
This is a naturally sweet herbal extract suitable for diabetics. Stevia tastes great, is free of harsh chemical additives and doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. Faithful to nature stocks natural stevia sweeteners in capsules, liquid or powdered form; perfect for sweetening coffee, tea and smoothies.
This is one of the best-known natural sweeteners out there – xylitol is naturally found in a variety of fibrous fruits and vegetables, and is known for its antibacterial properties, which is why it’s often added to chewing gum to promote dental health. This is a low-GI sweetener that’s absorbed into the body more slowly than processed sugar, and won’t cause blood sugar spikes in diabetics. Erythritol is a similar sweetener that’s low in carbs and has virtually no calories.