Raw honey is a natural product, contains a lot of valuable nutrients, and is known as one of the the oldest sweeteners in the world. It is produced by bees collecting flower nectar, breaking it down into simple sugars and then storing it in honeycombs.
- Positives: Honey has been used as a healing agent in natural medicine for ages. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Honey can be used to fight colds when combined with ginger.
- Negatives: What you should know: 100 g of blossom honey contains about 310 calories. That is almost as much as 100 g of white sugar. Therefore, honey isn’t going to save you many calories. Due to the water content of honey, 100 g of honey is not as sweet as 100 g of sugar. In fact, honey is about 80% as sweet as sugar. It has a similar impact on blood sugar levels as sugar (sucrose). For diabetics or those trying to manage blood sugar levels, there is no advantage to substituting honey for sugar.
Steviol glycoside is a sugar substitute that is extracted from the South American plant species stevia rebaundiana. It has been an approved food additive in the EU since 2011. Before that the sugar substitute was known as a bath additive.
- Positives: Stevia has no calories and does not damage the teeth. It also has no effect on your blood sugar level, so stevia can also be used by diabetics.
- Negatives: The stevia added to foods is a chemical extract so it does not contain any essential nutrients. Stevia may be much sweeter than sugar, but it has a bitter aftertaste.
Fun fact: Stevia is 300-400 times sweeter than white sugar!
Agave nectar (agave syrup) is made from the juice of the agave plant found in Mexico. This sweetener tastes like honey but has a thinner consistency.
- Positives: In contrast to ordinary sugar, agave nectar contains metabolites, vitamins and minerals. The sugar substitute is runnier than honey and thus more soluble in foods and drinks. Plus, it is suitable for vegans.
- Negatives: Agave nectar has about the same number of calories as honey and is thus not much lower in calories than sugar. Because of its high fructose content, the sweetener has a lower glycemic index, but eating too much fructose over a long period of time can be a bad thing: it can elevate your blood fat level, lead to a fatty liver, contribute to insulin resistance, while also raising the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Did you know this sugar substitute is made from the nectar of the flower buds of the coconut palm? It tastes a lot like caramel.
- Positives: Coconut sugar is said to contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. The sweetness of coconut sugar is very comparable to ordinary granulated sugar.
- Negatives: Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than sugar (35 compared to 100), but this is due to its high fructose content like agave nectar. Despite having a lower glycemic index, it is a fairly pure form of sugar. So, individuals with type 2 diabetes should not used it often. Plus, this sugar substitute is fairly expensive, which isn’t surprising when you consider that it is extracted by hand. Some people consider this sugar a luxury good.
Also known as “liquid gold” maple syrup is extracted from the sugar maple tree and is delicious on pancakes and is also a good alternative to sugar in tea.
- Positives: Maple syrup is a natural product. Unlike ordinary sugar, it contains more than 50 beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties. The darker the syrup, the higher the concentration of these compounds. Plus, 100 g of maple syrup has 90 mg of calcium, 185 mg of potassium, 25 mg of magnesium, and 2 mg of iron. It is still unclear, however, how much of these benefits are actually derived when the syrup is consumed in the recommended small amounts.
- Negatives: The sweetness of maple syrup (100 g has 260 cal) is 60% to 70% lower than refined sugar. So you need more maple syrup to achieve the sweetness of sugar. Make sure to pay attention to the purity and the ingredients when you buy it. Maple syrup often contains sugar water – not recommended for a sugar-free diet. Make sure the bottle is labeled as 100% pure maple syrup. If not, it can cause the same response as plain white sugar, depending on the amount and the quality.