In a busy household, white sugar goes fast. It’s our go-to for everything from cereal to baking, and it’s easy to find yourself running out.
Sugar substitutes may make you think of the bad old days of artificial sweeteners. Remember bitter aftertastes and weird sensations that made your tongue cold? Thankfully, much better alternatives are on the market these days.
Read on for 5 high-quality, great-tasting white sugar substitutes that deserve a place in your pantry!
Hailing from the chrysanthemum family, stevia has become increasingly popular over the years. You can even grow it at home and use its naturally super sweet leaves in tea and other beverages. But clearly, when you want to make a batch of cookies, leaves arent’ going to cut it.
That’s where stevia blends come in. The reason you can’t get stevia on its own – or at least not in crystal form for baking – is because it really is incredibly sweet. In fact, it’s around 200 times sweeter than regular white sugar.
Amazingly though, it’s also calorie-free. In its undiluted form, it also seems to be safe for diabetics. However, if you have diabetes or are baking for someone who has, check out the other ingredients in the baking blend. Some may not be suitable for diabetics and affect blood sugar levels.
Ones to watch for particularly are those that combine regular sugar and stevia. These might be beneficial for people looking to reduce their calorie intake for weight loss. But they are not suitable for diabetics.
2. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar has received a lot of praise in the media recently. It’s been touted as a healthy sugar replacement. That’s because it retains many of the micronutrients that have been stripped out of regular white sugar.
Proponents point to its lower GI and higher levels of electrolytes and minerals as reasons to make it part of your diet instead of sugar. But remember, it is still sugar. So in terms of calories, it is still very high and is not suitable for diabetics.
Let’s get down to the bottom line – is it actually any good as a substitute for white sugar?
The answer is yes – it’s a great substitute in drinks, and even in baking can usually be substituted 1:1 for white sugar. The end results will be slightly darker and produce a slightly different flavor. But don’t while it does come from the coconut palm, it won’t give you a coconut flavor.
Quick tip – coconut sugar can be more grainy than white sugar. Give it a quick blitz in a food processor before including it in your recipe as a white sugar substitute.
3. Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit sweetener is super appealing because it’s totally natural. worried about the bloating that sometimes accompanies sugar substitutes – you’ll get none of that with monk fruit. In fact, it’s side-effect-free!
Made from dried fruit, monk fruit sweetener has been used for centuries in Asia. It has no calories or carbs and does not affect blood glucose levels. It’s often blended with another natural sweetener erythritol (more on that next) to form a healthy sugar replacement.
Monk fruit is so much lower in calories than regular sugar that it may be the best sugar substitute out there. Those trying to lose weight may find it beneficial to use it regularly as a sugar substitute. Along with its lower calories, it also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
For baking, you can use it 1:1 as a substitute for white sugar. That means you can still go ahead and whip up that cake or cookies, even if you’re out of sugar. And you can get the health benefits of a lower-calorie sweetener at the same time.
Erythritol might sound a little more ‘sciency’ than some of the other sugar replacements we’ve looked at. But actually, it’s a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that can be found in some fruits and vegetables. Commercially, it is harvested from yeast and comes in a powdered form.
How does it stack up in terms of health? It’s not totally calorie-free, but it contains 94% fewer calories than white sugar.
Sometimes for baking, erythritol is combined with other natural sugar substitutes, such as monk fruit or stevia. Some brands may advise that the baked goods are best eaten the same day. If you eat them later, some people find it produces a slight cooling effect.
5. Agave Nectar
OK, we hear you – how can a liquid sweetener be a substitute for white sugar?
They might seem like they’re totally different things and will give different results. But actually in most recipes, substituting one for the other is a piece of cake (pardon the pun).
As a general guide, you’ll need about 2/3 cup of agave nectar for every 1 cup of white sugar the recipe called for. Take care to adjust the liquid though. A quick search online can guide you in how much to reduce the other liquid in the recipe to compensate.
What are its health credentials? Unlike some of the other healthy sugar substitutes we’ve looked at, it’s not a low-calorie option. It has a lower GI than regular white sugar but is high in fructose. It’s a great pantry standby, but if you’re choosing for health, you may want to consider other options.
The Verdict: White Sugar Substitutes That Rock
There’s no need to go begging for a cup of sugar from a neighbor anymore!
With so many great white sugar substitutes on the market, pick up one of the great options above next time you go shopping. Not only will you always have it on hand, but go for one of the healthy options and your body will thank you too!
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