We know that sugar is not good for you, but we also know that completely eliminating it from our diet is unrealistic for most people.
Typical healthy eating plans recommend consuming no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day.
That's about 100 calories from sugar, which isn't a lot.
Sugar is found in many foods, including natural sources like fruit, honey, and maple syrup.
However, high fructose corn syrup and sugar are the most common added sugars in the American diet, and the worst to eat.
What are the natural alternative sweeteners to sugar?
There are many options available that do not spike blood sugar levels and add unnecessary calories or artificial ingredients to foods.
Many of these sweeteners can be used in place of brown sugar or other added sugars in almost any recipe.
Try one (or more) of these natural alternative sweeteners instead of sugar in your next meal!
Stevia comes from a plant called "South American sugar grass", which has been used as a sweetener since ancient times.
Stevia is completely safe and contains no calories or carbohydrates.
It's 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, so you don't need to use a lot of it.
This makes it a great alternative to sugar for those who want to reduce calories in their diet.
Stevia can be used as a sweetener in both hot and cold foods and drinks.
Stevia is not stable when cooked, so it is not recommended to use it to sweeten baked goods.
Stevia can be purchased in liquid, powder and granular form.
The good news about stevia is that it has no known side effects.
There is concern that stevia may interfere with how the body responds to insulin.
Brown rice syrup
Brown rice syrup is obtained from cooked and then fermented brown rice.
It is a common ingredient in Asian cooking. Brown rice syrup is naturally sweet, with a smooth texture and a caramel flavor.
It is made with whole grains, so it contains fiber and nutrients.
It is a low glycemic sweetener that does not raise blood sugar levels like sugar.
It is made up of complex carbohydrates, so it is digested slowly and helps keep blood sugar levels uniform throughout the day.
Brown rice syrup is not as sweet as sugar, so you may need to use more of it in recipes.
It is best used in baked goods if they are cooked at a low temperature to avoid caramelization.
Brown rice syrup has a low glycemic index (around 30), which means it does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
It is a source of dietary fiber and a good source of B vitamins and iron.
It contains around 6 grams of sugar per tablespoon, so it's not a good choice for diabetics or anyone trying to lose weight.
Molasses is a natural sweetener made from the nectar of the Mediterranean fig.
It is a non-GMO, completely natural and low-calorie sweetener with a rich flavor.
It is obtained from the nectar of the fig fruit, which is then evaporated to produce a thick syrup.
It has been used for centuries as a sweetener in many countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Molasses has a low glycemic index and does not cause an insulin response in the body.
It is not considered a low calorie sweetener, because a little bit of the product is very effective.
 It's about 400 times sweeter than sugar, so a small amount can really add flavor to foods.
It can be used in all baked goods, drinks, sauces or any other product for which sugar is used.
Maple syrup
Maple syrup is obtained from the sap of the maple tree.
It is a natural sweetener with an intense flavor and color.
It is low in calories and low in sugar and is not considered a high glycemic sweetener.
It is mainly used in the kitchen or in the oven as a finishing touch on pancakes or waffles.
It is not a good sugar substitute when cooking because it has a different density and sugar content.
Because maple syrup is so concentrated, you don't need to use a lot of it in cooking. A small amount is enough to sweeten foods without adding unnecessary calories.
Maple syrup is made in Canada but is also found in other parts of the world.
It is a great alternative for those who want to avoid high fructose corn syrup.
Honey is a natural sweetener made from the nectar of Toronjal, a type of flower grown in Spain.
It has a low glycemic index and has been shown to have antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
The taste is very similar to that of honey, but the color is darker and comes from a different type of flower.
Honey is a good alternative for those who want to avoid honey or prefer a less processed sweetener.
Honey is known to have a low glycemic index, which means it doesn't cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
However, it is not a low calorie sweetener, so be careful not to overdo it if you are trying to lose weight.
Honey has a higher sugar content than honey, but is less processed and contains more nutrients.
Honey has a longer shelf life than honey, so it's a good choice as a long-term sweetener.
Coconut syrup
Coconut syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of the coconut palm.
It is low in calories and does not raise blood sugar levels like sugar.
It is not as sweet as sugar, so you need to use more of it in cooking and cooking.
Coconut syrup is obtained from the sap of coconut palms, a natural source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
It is low in calories, fat-free and gluten-free. It has a glycemic index similar to that of honey and is kept for a long time.
Coconut syrup is not as well known as other natural sweeteners, but it is gaining in popularity.
It is a good choice for those who want to avoid high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
It is increasingly available in stores and online.
Coconut syrup is made in Asia and not all brands come from sustainable sources.
Sugar is an important part of our diet, but it is best consumed in moderation.
Natural alternative sweeteners are a healthier option and come in many different forms.
With so many options available, there's no reason to use white table sugar in cooking or baking.
These natural alternative sweeteners are not only healthier, but many of them have a unique flavor that will make your dishes tastier.