The white sugar that we find in stores is not really an ideal companion for our diet. The latter, so refined, is indeed not very interesting for the body … Here is a list of the best alternatives to white sugar: learn to replace it on a daily basis!
Why replace white sugar or refined sugar?
It may be a little treat you like with your coffee or to enhance certain preparations. However, refined white sugar is composed almost exclusively of sucrose, that is to say a cocktail of calories that provide nothing to the body. But it turns out to be particularly addicting! It is for this reason that sugar has a particularly high glycemic index (GI 70).
Reduce too much sugar intake
It causes spikes in insulin, which are not beneficial to health. However, when we know that the consumption per person is around 100 g of sugar per day in our Western countries, there is cause for alarm! On average, French households buy around 35 kg of sugar per year. A worrying figure while the world average is 20 kg… But between the direct contributions (the small piece of sugar in coffee or the powdered sugar in a yogurt) and the indirect contributions (cookies and other drinks and preparations), it it’s time to limit your sugar intake. Especially since it should not exceed 25 grams per day, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Fortunately, there are a number of easily accessible alternatives. We list a selection for you here.
Replace sugar to gradually detoxify
Sugar is bad for your health: all health authorities agree on this point. The WHO also recognizes that we have too much daily consumption of sugar. This tendency can promote the development of certain diseases such as diabetes or obesity. It can also cause cardiovascular disease. We must get rid of it!
This list of the best sugar alternatives gives you the keys to a gradual sugar detox. As we explain in our dedicated page, it is possible to detoxify yourself from sugar by learning to replace it with healthier alternatives. With better nutritional composition and lower glycemic index, these few foods can help you dramatically improve the quality of your diet. And they will also help you overcome this sugar addiction that many of us know about.
The best alternatives to replace white sugar
There are several healthy alternatives to white sugar that will allow you to slowly detoxify yourself from refined sugar. Because, as studies show, it acts on the brain in the same way as hard drugs. Besides, it is even more addicting than cocaine! What can we replace white sugar or “refined” sugar with? The ideal is to turn to alternatives with a low glycemic index.
Stevia to replace white sugar
Native to South America, especially Bolivia, stevia is available in both powder and liquid form. It is most often in its liquid form that it is found sold in supermarkets. It is a sweetener (not to be confused with aspartame) whose taste is similar to sugar, but which nevertheless has two major advantages. The first is the absence of sugar and calories in its composition.
The sweetness of stevia is more than 300 times that of sucrose, and therefore, of classic white sugar. This assumes a limited recourse for preparations. Don’t add as much stevia as you put sugar in a cake (the recommended dose is 4 mg / kg for an adult), a few drops are enough!
Other advantages of stevia, since we are talking about cooking: it supports baking very well without degradation. Better, once consumed, it does not generate a blood sugar spike, unlike white sugar. Stevia leaf extract is a real alternative to white sugar, easy to buy and integrate into your daily life. And today, it is so widespread that it is easily found in all its forms. In addition, this plant has many health benefits, especially for people with diabetes and in the context of hypoglycemic diets . Stevia is also an interesting alternative for people with glucose intolerance.
Coconut sugar, one of the best alternatives to sugar
Coconut sugar is less worse than white sugar, since it contains several types of sugars. It is therefore composed of fructose, glucose and sucrose (for the most part). This sugar comes from the coconut blossom: it is an unrefined sugar that is obtained by crystallizing the sap from the stems of the flowers of coconut palms. Unlike white sugar, it doesn’t just contain sucrose. Likewise, since it is unrefined, it still contains essential minerals and nutrients. Coconut sugar has the same nutritional qualities and sweetening abilities as brown sugar.
Thus, coconut sugar is one of the alternatives capable of replacing white sugar in the diet. However, it also has the advantage of having a very low glycemic index, since it is around 24.5. The spike in blood sugar that it will then cause will be slow and very moderate, even very low. Favor coconut sugar over refined sugar in your sweet culinary preparations to increase their nutritional value and improve their glycemic index!
Cane sugar, also called whole sugar or “whole sugar” is sugar that has not been refined. Without the bleaching process, cane sugar has real richness in its composition. Indeed, it has minerals, vitamins and proteins. It is therefore more interesting than white sugar from a purely nutritional point of view! Potassium, magnesium and calcium are also found in high concentrations.
Why is it brownish in color, bordering on caramel? Notably thanks to its high iron content, which is almost 50 times higher than that of white sugar. But is this unrefined sugar more dangerous for our teeth? Since it is more “raw”, does it risk causing cavities? No. It is even rather the reverse. The trace elements it contains even act as a protector for the teeth! If you are keen on using sugar, cane sugar is the best possible alternative to white sugar. It is richer in nutrients and more interesting. But beware. Thus, cane sugar acts on blood sugar levels and causes peaks that must be taken into account.
You probably have a jar of honey in a cupboard, brought back by your great aunt on a trip. Or bought by yourself, during a visit to a city known for its artisanal honey. Os, since then, the jar of honey is little used and goes on forever in the cupboard. It must be said that it has a bad reputation, with its glycemic index comparable to white sugar (acacia honey has a GI of 35 and flower honey has a GI of 80). But beware, however, honey remains less caloric than refined sugar, and has a positive action on the body .
Honey provides various minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Thus, it is associated with virtues for the stabilization of the intestinal microflora. It is also a preventive actor against certain disorders, and in particular neurodegenerative diseases. Go get this jar of honey and honor it, in moderation. Be careful however with synthetic honey which is a totally industrial honey created from… sugar! So choose real bee flower honey, honest brands will certainly not forget to mention it on their jars. Know that honey has a higher sweetening power than white sugar. 50 grams of honey is equivalent to 100 grams of sugar.
Maple syrup to replace white sugar
Maple syrup is the sap of maple, and very often comes to us from Quebec. It is a naturally sweet solution, made from maple sap that is collected in the spring. It is made up of carbohydrates: sucrose, glucose and fructose. Precisely, if maple syrup is quite close to white sugar, it still contains fructose which is a healthy source of sugar (if it is not added artificially to preparations). This syrup has a lower glycemic index than sugar (GI 65), but above all it is a good source of nutrients.
It contains vitamin B, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium and even zinc. Maple syrup also contains over twenty antioxidant compounds, making it a much healthier source of nutrients than white sugar. If maple syrup is better than sugar, it should be consumed in moderation. Finally, it should be remembered that it is ideal to replace white sugar as soon as you can for your food preparations.
Still very little known a few years ago, agave syrup comes from a cactus in Mexico. It is also called “agave nectar”. It is a sweetener, obtained from several species of agave. While it may look like honey at first, it is less viscous and tastes much sweeter. This is because, compared to some of the other sugar alternatives presented here, agave syrup is quite neutral when it comes to taste. It is essentially composed of simple sugars (fructose and glucose), the content of which varies depending on the maturity and the species of agaves used in its preparation.
However, it has a higher sweetening power than refined white sugar, which means that 100 grams of sugar can be replaced by around 60 to 70 grams of agave syrup in preparations. It can also be added directly to hot drinks to replace the eternal lump of sugar! The glycemic index of agave syrup is variable, but it is possible to find preparations with a glycemic index equal to only 15! Agave syrup can ideally replace honey in the vegan diet, which completely excludes the latter. No glycemic spike, limited weight gain, and reduced cardiovascular risk: this alternative to white sugar is definitely all good.
In some recipes, you can also use spices to replace refined sugar. Without having a sweetening power, these spices add flavor and taste to your preparations. They are an excellent compromise here. Indeed, in addition to replacing sugar, spices have a little healthy side, since it offers many health benefits. As such, we must try to favor them in cooking, and in particular in pastry making.
Think in particular of the spice mixes specific to certain preparations, or orient yourself towards specific spices such as vanilla. It is surely the most used spice to replace sugar and to flavor preparations of all kinds. Choose it fresh, and grate it directly into the preparation or sprinkle it on. You can also use it as an aroma. Cinnamon also recalls the sweet dishes of childhood, with its very pronounced aromas. It goes perfectly with dishes made with apples and other fruits, and can easily replace sugar in a “sweet” preparation. She is a great ally for pastry making! In addition to being able to strengthen the sweetening power of so-called “traditional” sugars, it would have benefits on respiratory functions, diabetes and weight loss.
The same goes for star anise, which is also called “star anise”. In addition to offering a very rich taste to your kitchen, it can also make you enjoy its benefits. And there are many: antiviral properties, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. Star anise is a spice rich in flavors that will enhance your dishes and allow you to cook in a healthier way. Finally, you can also turn to nutmeg. Reduced to powder, it is used as a condiment. Its most famous use is certainly in béchamel. But you can also use this spice to replace sugar in many preparations. Sweet béchamel uses nutmeg, like many other flavorful recipes.
Other alternatives to replace white sugar
To complete this list, we want to talk to you about kitul. It is extracted from the sap of the stems of the flowers of the Ceylon palm, otherwise known as Caryota Urens. It contains many minerals (iron, calcium) and vitamins C, B1 and B12. We can also mention rapadura, which comes from sugar cane. This sugar is absolutely unrefined: it has retained all of its nutrients: mineral salts, vitamins, trace elements. Its sweetening power is also very interesting.
Finally, to close this list of the best sugar alternatives, we also offer Demerara, which comes straight from Guyana. It is also extracted from cane sugar and comes in the form of small blond crystals that have been coated with molasses. Demerara is much more fragrant and flavorful than brown sugar. Plus, it contains more nutrients! It contains iron, calcium, magnesium , phosphorus, potassium and vitamins (E and B) in greater quantities. It is an ideal alternative to replace white sugar! And next to the Demerara, it will seem bland to you …
Beware of synthetic sweeteners
In this list, we’ve introduced you to two sweeteners: stevia and agave syrup. Don’t be afraid of the term “sweetener,” which isn’t pejorative here. Indeed, these alternatives to sugar are natural sweeteners! They should not be confused with food additives and synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, in particular. If its sweetening power is greater than that of sugar, it remains a synthetic product which is in no way natural. In commercial products, it bears the sweet name of “E951”: it should be avoided!
Replace sugar: remember
Any alternative mentioned in this article is more interesting and beneficial than white sugar. From coconut sugar to stevia and agave syrup: you are spoiled for choice. And you can now strike it out of your eating habits and choose healthy replacements for it that are even richer in flavor!