It’s no surprise that sugar isn’t good for you. But this doesn’t stop you from succumbing to sugar’s charm and losing your willpower. In this article, I provide you with six healthy alternatives to sugar so that you can still satisfy your sweet tooth. Get all the benefits while avoiding table sugar.
“Coffee without sugar?!” A few years back, I scorned the idea that one can drink coffee without sugar or milk.
Fast forward to today, I really can’t understand how people can drink coffee with sugar :-).
You see, when your habits change, so does your perspectives!
In my previous article, I discussed the dangers of table sugar and asked you to minimise your intake of this substance. Today, I want to present you with some healthy alternatives to sugar. Yep, it’s not always about saying “no.” Here’s when you can say “yes!”
Raw honey is perhaps one of the most accessible sugar alternatives out there.
It’s is one of the oldest sweeteners in the world and packed with enzymes, antioxidants, minerals and many other essential vitamins.
Raw honey has been used as a healing agent in natural medicine. It’s also used as in the Islamic tradition. Both the Quran and the Sunnah refer to honey as a healer of disease.
In Surah Nahl (the Bees), Allah subuhanawuta’la refers to honey as a “healer.” He says, “…There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colours, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” (Al-Quran 16:69
And our beloved Prophet (SAW) referred it as a remedy for “every illness”.
“Honey is a remedy for every illness, and the Qur’an is a remedy for all illness of the mind. Therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Qur’an and honey.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Now, it’s important to note that all these benefits of honey are from raw honey, not from the heated and filtered honey you get from your supermarket. So, if you really want to use honey as a “healer”, you need to look for honey that is unheated and unpasteurized.
Here is a little caveat: 1 tablespoon of honey has roughly the same amount of calories as one tablespoon of sugar. While honey offers some health benefits, it’s still sugar and should be used sparingly. So as usual, moderation is key!
How to Substitute Honey With Sugar
- Honey is sweeter than sugar. So for every spoon of sugar, substitute half a spoon of honey.
- Want to substitute sugar in your baked goods? Swap a cup of sugar with a half a cup of honey.
- Here is a great article that details how to swap honey for sugar in baked goods.
When it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, dates are a great substitute for refined sugar. They are versatile and can be used to replace table sugar in many ways.
The Quran mentions about dates in around 22 verses. And in most verses, the dates are described as worldly blessings. For example, Allah says, “Therein is fruit and date palms, producing spathes (enclosing dates),” (Al-Quran, 55:11).
Now this “blessing” is one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world. They are full of fibre, potassium, iron and many other essential minerals and vitamins.
How to Substitute Dates With Sugar
- If you are into baking, you can substitute one cup of regular sugar with two-thirds of a cup of date paste.
- You can quickly make dates paste by blending 1 cup of seedless dates with ½ cup hot water in a food processor.
- You can use dates paste for muffins, cakes and even for your pancakes.
Just like honey, dates are also high in calories. So if you want to lose weight, it may be wise to reduce your consumption of dates.
I love cinnamon. I frequently add a few dashes of cinnamon to my coffee, tea or even my morning shake.
It does indeed give you a lovely flavour. Trust me on this; the taste of cinnamon is enough for you to replace the sugar or any other artificial sweeteners in your tea or coffee.
Here is how to do it: Add ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder to your tea or coffee. Though it’s virtually calorie free, too much of it can be toxic. Stick to no more than a teaspoon a day.
There are two types of cinnamon in the market. The true cinnamon, also known as Ceylon Cinnamon (from Sri Lanka) seems to be better and less toxic. So whenever possible, choose the cinnamon powder that comes from Sri Lanka.
Stevia is a zero calorie natural sweetener that is extracted from the leaves of stevia, a plant widely found in South America.
Native South Americans have been using this calorie-free sweetener for more than 1500 years.
Due to its zero calories and zero sugar appeal, it has gained immense popularity among health and fitness enthusiasts.
How to Substitute Stevia With Sugar
- You can use stevia powder or liquid both for your coffee and tea.
- Stevia is excellent for baking goods too.
- Since stevia is sweeter than sugar, you need less of it to sweeten your drink or food than sugar. Use it according to what the packet instructs.
- Here are few of my recommendations: Organic Stevia Powder, SweetLeaf Stevia
Puree from overripe bananas is an excellent substitute for refined sugar in baking recipes. For most recipes, you can use 1 cup of pureed banana for every cup of sugar.
You get 1 cup of puree from three bananas by blending them with 1-2 tablespoon of water in a food processor.
Banana is also excellent to sweeten your smoothies or shakes. The bonus of adding a banana to your smoothie is that it also gives a nice texture to your smoothie.
Applesauce is another excellent sugar substitute for many baking goods.
Instead of a cup of white sugar in bread, muffins, and brownies, swap in an equal amount of applesauce!
Purchase the no-sugar-added kind, or make some at home.
Take Away Message
As I’ve mentioned in my previous article, eating too much sugar has been linked to several diseases and health issues.
So, swapping any of these alternatives with sugar is undoubtedly a wise move. However, these substitutes aren’t to be indulged without limits. As with most things in life, you’ve got to apply moderation when enjoying them.
I think moderation is perhaps one of the most neglected Sunnahs of our beloved Prophet (SAW). And it’s time we revive it.