Quitting added sugar can be a difficult task for some people but knowing their harmful side effects can make the task much easier. Refined sugar is a common form of added sugar that should be avoided due to its harmful side effects that include diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer and even poor cognitive functioning. So, instead of using refined sugar and artificial sweeteners you should opt for natural sweeteners that are actually good for your health. Here are 5 natural sweeteners that are truly healthy.
1. Raw Honey: Raw honey is one of the best natural sweeteners. It contains 80 percent natural sugars, 18 percent water and 2 percent minerals, vitamins, pollen, and protein. Raw honey is packed with enzymes, antioxidant, iron, potassium, zinc, calcium, vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavin. The presence of these nutrients helps to neutralize free radicals while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Always use honey that’s been organically and locally produced to get the full benefits. The darker the honey, the richer the flavor and the greater the health benefits.
2. Stevia: Stevia is a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. This plant has been grown for sweetness and medicinal purposes for centuries in South America. It has zero calories, zero carbohydrates and none of the damaging side effects of artificial sweeteners, making it a perfect natural sweetener especially for people who are trying to lose weight or diabetics.
3. Dates: Dates are rich in potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B6. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80 percent, and the quality of dates depends on the glucose, fructose, and sucrose content. Dates are easily digested and can help metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
4. Coconut Sugar: It is a type of natural sugar from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. It is low in glycemic and rich in mineral. Also, it is loaded with polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous and other phytonutrients. Coconut sugar is available in the market in crystal or granule form, blocks or liquid.
5. Maple Syrup: It is a very healthy natural sweetener as it has a high content of manganese, calcium, potassium, and zinc. It is also rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. Select darker, Grade B maple syrups, as they contain more beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups.