It may seem a little strange to write about alternatives to sugar on a site that is called ‘SugarNess’, however, I’m obviously aware that sugar is not a health food and if we can look at ways of substituting it with healthier alternatives in at least some of our recipes, then I’m all for it. For those with diabetes and some other conditions, it is even more crucial to restrict sugar intake.
When we talk about sugar, we are generally referring to sucrose obtained from sugar cane, or sugar beets, and processed into the granulated or powdered form that we are all familar with. Some recipes are dependent on the specific functional properties of sugar in order to work, so we clearly can’t just assume that substituting an alternative sweetener for sugar in a recipe will yield the same results.
I did a bit of research on alternative sweeteners and found that there is an awful lot of confusion and conflicting information about which types of sweeteners are healthier than others, and which ones can be subtituted where. I am therefore going to do a series of posts over the next few weeks and months looking individually at a range of alternative sweeteners, both natural and artificial.
Some general points:
- As with all food products, don’t assume that just because it is labelled ‘natural’ that it is healthy.
- There are two main factors you should look for when searching for a healthier alternative to sugar; a) The less processed it is, the better, b) Usually, the lower the Glycemic Index value, the better.
- When replacing sugar with an alternative sweetener in a recipe, keep in mind that adjustments in amount will need to be made as the sweetness level will usually be different. Also, if your alternative sweetener is liquid, then your other liquids will need to be reduced. Be prepared for a bit of trial and error until you get the perfect balance.
- Some sugars are processed by being filtered through animal bone based charcoal, so vegetarians/vegans have an additional reason to search for alternatives.
Do look out for my upcoming posts on individual alternatives to sugar. In the meantime, I’d love to hear below whether you use alternatives to sugar in your cooking and what kind of results you have had.
Thank you to Mayumi-H for the suggestion that I write about alternatives to sugar.