When you are trying to avoid sugar, it can be tricky to know what sugar substitutes are good ones and what sugar substitutes are still packed with fructose (the stuff we are trying to avoid when we cut out sugar).
There are a host of sugar substitutes that are used in cooking and food products to replace sugar, but most of them are still packed full of fructose. Some even deliver more fructose than every day sugar!
HERE I LIST JUST A FEW OF THE COMMON SUGAR SUBSTITUTES ON THE MARKET AND HOW THEY STACK UP AGAINST STANDARD SUGAR.
- Sucrose is also known as white table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar and rapadura sugar. It contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose.
- Agave Syrup is a sugar substitute made from the same Mexican succulent that tequila is made from. It contains roughly 90% fructose – it's one of those ones to avoid because it's actually higher than sugar (sucrose).
- Coconut sugar/Coconut nectar/Coconut syrup: Coconut sweeteners are a relatively new craze, they show up in many health food and although sound like they would be great for you, they still contain around about 45% fructose, which is almost the same amount found in sugar (sucrose).
- Honey: Whether it’s raw or organic doesn’t matter when it comes to fructose content. Honey contains 40% fructose, which is only 10% less than sucrose.
- Maple syrup is often used as a healthier sugar alternative. Unlike other sugar substitutes it does have some health benefits but still contains up to 40% fructose.
- Dates are often used to sweeten “sugar-free” recipes, but they contain roughly 30% fructose. Plus they often need to be used in large quantities to get the same sweetness. Be mindful when using them on the regular.
- Rice malt syrup is made from fermented cooked rice. It’s a blend of complex carbohydrates, maltose and glucose. It’s 100% fructose free. This is my go-to sweetener with everything I make.
- Stevia is a plant-based sweetener. It’s completely fructose free, (bonus!) and around 300 times sweeter than sugar. It’s great in recipes where you want to add a little sweetness, it can have a bitter aftertaste if it's used in large quantities and be mindful of the brand you are using, test out different brands because not all Stevia is created equal!
WHAT I DO: I use dates when cooking certain recipes and I use them in smoothies to sweeten also, I think dates are fantastic in moderation as they contain valuable fibre and nutrients. When it comes to cooking I almost always use either rice malt syrup or/and stevia. Both are very versatile and can be used in almost any recipe.
SUGAR AND THE SKIN: One of the main ways sugar ruins your skin is it causes inflammation in the body. Sugar is highly acidic, and while all acidic foods can cause inflammation to some degree, sugar is one of the worst. How so? Sugar causes a rise in blood sugar levels that surge and plummet, which leads to inflammation. Any sign of inflammation in the skin will cause breakouts, so be sure to avoid refined sugars and added sugars including white sugar, brown sugar, agave syrup, molasses, maple syrup and honey if you’re prone to breakouts. Instead choose rice malt syrup or even better use stevia!.
The inflammatory properties in sugar don’t only lead to breakouts, but also to wrinkles. Sugar basically attacks the healthy, supple collagen in your skin that keeps your skin wrinkle free. Sugar basically "eats" the collagen, so to speak, on a cellular level, which leads to dehydrated, dull-looking skin. When your collagen levels are depleted, wrinkles occur.
So for truly beautiful skin and healthy insides; avoid the inflammatory causing, calorie rich (16 calories per teaspoon, yikes), nasty little thing called sugar!