No matter how “natural” is your sweetener, it is still a sweetener and should be consumed in moderation. I use the following natural sweeteners in my healthy family recipes:
Palm sugar is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic crystalline sweetener that looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar! However, it is completely natural and unrefined. It comes from the flowers growing high on coconut trees, which are opened to collect their liquid flower nectar. This nectar is then air-dried to form a crystalline sugar that’s naturally brown in color and naturally rich in a number of vitamons, minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin B1, B2, B6 and more.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is a sweetener derived from brown rice by cooking brown rice flour with dried barley malt. The barley malt contains enzymes, which break the starch in the brown rice into sugar. Brown rice syrup consists primarily of starch and sugar. Brown rice syrup has a low glycemic value, which means it does not cause a sugar rush or a sudden spike in blood sugar after consuming it. This is because the sugar profile in this syrup is 50% soluble carbohydrates, 45% maltose and 3% glucose. It’s a good source of B-complex vitamins.
Date sugar is a natural sweetener produced by powdering or grinding the chopped and dried dates. It is not processed, is light brown in color, has a very sweet taste, and a grainy texture. Date sugar has approximately 40% sucrose, 30% glucose and 30% fructose. Date sugar may cause a sudden spike in blood sugar, so diabetics have to be cautious and use it in moderation. Date sugar is a good source of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. Date sugar is also a good source of potassium. This along with low amounts of sodium helps to maintain blood pressure and reduces water retention.
Raw Organic Honey
Raw organic honey contains beneficial lactobacillus and bifidus bacteria. It can help with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Superior quality honey also has incredible healing properties if applied to burns, ulcers, and other wounds. make sure to store your raw honey at room temperature and not let it crystalize.
Previously believed to be a healthy low-glycemic sweetener, but according to newer research does not appear to be much healthier than cane syrup, agave dissolves in cold liquids and is a good sweetener to use when smoother texture is desired. Agave nectar is most often produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus or yuccas in both form and habitat, but they are actually succulents similar to the familiar Aloe Vera.
Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb, which grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves account for its incredible sweetness, making it unique among the nearly 300 species of Stevia plants. Raw herbal Stevia contains nearly one hundred identified phytonutrients and volatile oils. However, in the quantities typically consumed, the nutritive benefits will be negligible. Stevia is sold as an extract or as powder. It contains virtually no calories.