In the super-sized land of sugary soft drinks and decadent desserts, added sugar is becoming an increased problem in Americans’ diets. Fifteen percent of calories in adult diets come from added sugars. While our bodies need glucose to survive, an excess of sugar is often linked to obesity. To cut back on your sugar consumption, use these five natural alternatives to sugar instead.

Raw Honey

Natural Alternatives to Sugar

The buzz on honey’s benefits go beyond the liquid’s sweetness. Honey is composed primarily of water, fructose and glucose. The sticky substance is sweeter than sugar, so you need less of it to sweeten your food. Bonus health feature: local honey contains trace amounts of pollen, which helps desensitize allergic reactions.

Stevia

Natural Alternatives to Sugar

This natural sweetener has started to become a supermarket staple. The stevia plant is native to South America and has been used as a natural sweetener for hundreds of years. The sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar and can be a substitute for sugar in baking recipes. Many mainstream companies are incorporating stevia into their products such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola due to the sweetener being calorie-free.

Dates

Natural Alternatives to Sugar

Surprisingly, dates are one of the best substitutes for white sugar. The fruit is high in sugar and fiber, but offers a more caramel-like flavor. Date sugar, which can be found in many grocery stores, can be used as a one-to- one replacement for granulated or brown sugar. Blended raw dates act as a binder for homemade cookies while also being delicious in smoothies. Finally, homemade date syrup can add a delicious caramel flavor to your morning coffee.

Pureed Fruits

Natural Alternatives to Sugar

Pureed fruits, such as bananas or applesauce, may be used as a natural sugar substitute in baking. In addition to making your recipes more favorable, you will harness the fruit’s natural sugar instead of using refined sugar. Be mindful, however, of matching flavors in baking. Using pureed bananas in banana bread offers natural sweetness while applesauce’s mild flavor works in multiple recipes.

Maple Syrup

Natural Alternatives to Sugar

While perhaps one of the most decadent natural sugar substitutes, maple syrup can be found in nearly every supermarket. The syrup may be used in various recipes from baking to cooking. The syrup contains antioxidants that support your body’s immune system, as well as several vitamins and minerals. Make sure to purchase real maple syrup, though, and not the imitation sweetener.

When using natural sugar substitutes, be mindful of your consumption. Just because many sugar substitutes are natural, does not necessarily make them healthy foods. When it comes to sugar and its substitutes, make sure to consume them in moderation.

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