The popular press has more or less demonized white sugar in recent years, linking it to everything from obesity to diabetes to dyslipidemia, a condition characterized by higher levels of fat in the blood and reduced levels of HDL cholesterol, commonly known as the “good” cholesterol.
While it’s true that white sugar is not the best nutritional choice for weight loss due to its high caloric value, finding naturally occurring alternatives to white sugar can be challenging. Also, certain misconceptions persist where naturally occurring sugar alternatives are concerned. A simple sugar is just that, a simple sugar: naturally occurring alternatives to white sugar do not contain fewer calories. White sugar alternatives still confer four calories per gram, and too much of any sugar will skew your weight loss results. That said, naturally occurring sugar alternatives contain valuable nutrients. They also tend to have a stronger sweetness, which helps you use less and reduce your overall caloric intake.
Maple syrup contains a host of valuable vitamins and minerals, including choline, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium. Where maple syrup is concerned, a little goes a long way; its rich flavour helps you get a lot more out of a teaspoon than plain white sugar. Drizzle a small amount of maple syrup on oatmeal or a slice of whole grain toast for a tasty breakfast treat, or on a salmon fillet with a dash of cayenne pepper for a scrumptious dinner.
Honey is another example of a nutritionally-dense alternative to white sugar. Honey offers a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, choline, folate, calcium, phosphorous, selenium, magnesium and iron. Typically darker honey tends to be more nutritious, particularly Manuka honey, a type of honey produced in New Zealand, which also offers some anti-bacterial benefits. Again, because honey carries such an exotic flavour, you don’t need to use much to taste the sweetness, which helps reduce overall calories and supports your weight loss efforts.
Molasses contains a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals in significant quantities, including niacin, vitamin B6, choline, calcium, selenium, manganese, potassium, iron and magnesium. Its earthy flavour also gives you a lot more taste than white sugar, and its versatility lets you use it in a lot of different dishes. Molasses works well on breakfast foods like oatmeal and cream of wheat. It can also be used as a tasty glaze for a chicken breast or to add zing to a vegetable stir fry alongside a handful of pecans.
Emma Cale is the staff writer at Slimband, Canada’s leading weight loss surgery clinic. She blogs regularly about health and wellness topics including weight loss, nutrition, fitness, obesity research, and obesity-related illnesses.