From maple syrup to stevia to raw cane sugar, there are a wide variety of sweeteners out there that may have you questioning what’s best and where to use them.
It’s important to remember that when choosing a go-to sweetener to satisfy a sweet tooth, they’re not all alike. They each have their own qualities and distinct flavors, and they may affect your body differently.
While many of us immediately associate sugar with candy, doughnuts, and those little packets on a restaurant table, some sweeteners may be beneficial to our health and well-being. For example, honey has antibacterial properties and dates contain digestion-helping fiber. These both occur naturally, and while they’re better-for-you options, they are still high in calories and can have you falling into the sugar highs and lows. Like most things, sweeteners should be consumed in moderation.
So next time you’re strolling the aisles of the grocery store confused about which sweetener is the one for you, here are some helpful tips to make the buying process easier.
Choose Natural Sweeteners Sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, date paste, stevia, and coconut sugar all come directly from nature. Always be sure to check labels when it comes to making your purchase! Often, big brands trade out more natural sweeteners for less-expensive artificial ones, like high fructose corn syrup and “natural flavors.”
Consider Its Purpose Will this be going in your coffee, added to a recipe, or sprinkled over your breakfast? The taste, texture, and level of sweetness are all things to consider when you’re choosing which is best for you. Using fruit or fruit purees instead of refined sugar is great for baking delicious treats without the unwanted energy spikes and dips. Try adding small amounts of bananas, dates, figs, or applesauce in place of sugar to get sweetness and a welcome nutritional boost.
Moderation Is Key While some sweeteners may be better for you, they can still have harmful effects on your health when overconsumed. Stick to the “less is more” motto here. Overindulging in any sweetener, natural or not, will put your health at risk and have you experiencing the negative effects of sugar.
It’s always important to take your size, activity level, and health goals into consideration when deciding how much sweetener to include in your diet. Remember to be mindful of your consumption of sweeteners and opt for natural alternatives when you can.