Health Check: Sweet! Try These Healthy Sugar Substitutes
Once kids get into grade school, it\'s hard to lead a completely sugar-free life. Keeping ice cream from a toddler is one thing; but keeping birthday cakes and other treats from a grade-schooler can start to feel like deprivation. Fortunately, not all sweeteners were created alike. To keep your family\'s sugar addiction in check - without resorting to artificial chemical sweeteners - consider replacing the ultra-refined white sugar in your kitchen with some of these alternatives.
- Agave Syrup - Made in Mexico from the agave plant, this ultra-sweet syrup is low on the glycemic index (meaning it\'s absorbed into the bloodstream slowly, without the peaks and plunges of refined sweeteners). Great for sweetening tea and even as a sugar substitute in baked goods. It\'s thinner than honey, so follow package directions for use in baking.
Feeding Your Family
- Stevia - Made from a plant and used for centuries in Paraguay and Brazil, stevia is a low-carb, low glycemic-index sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sugar and may have some health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure. It\'s never quite caught on in the United States, although it has been widely used in Japan for more than 30 years, accounting for 40 percent of the sweetener market.
- SucanatŪ - Unlike the brown sugar most of us grew up with, which is actually a refined cane sugar with molasses mixed back in, Sucanat is truly unrefined cane sugar. With its naturally high molasses content, it retains some minerals, and is delicious and rich-tasting as an overall sugar substitute. Sucanat is actually a trade name for sugar cane natural. Get it? Su-Ca-Nat.
- Date Sugar - Made from crushed dried dates, date sugar is a great-tasting substitute for sugar, and actually has some fiber and minerals to boot. It\'s also not as sweet as sugar, and can help you move toward an overall reduction in sugar.