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Maple syrup, 260 calories per 100g
This syrup is made by boiling the sap of the maple tree. It is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than white sugar and rich in vitamin B, proteins, and minerals like zinc, calcium, potassium and manganese.

Although maple syrup’s glycemic index (65) is lower than sugar (70), it’s still wise to go easy on it to avoid sugar rushes. Aim for pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup, which is usually just maple flavoring in high fructose corn syrup with o real maple syrup at all. Maple will add a rich, nutty taste to recipes and an intense sweetness, so use sparingly. .

Monk fruit, 0 calories
This small oval fruit (“Luo Han Guo” in Chinese) is a cross between an apple and a kiwi. It can be turned into an extract with a sweet taste but no calories. It is pending FDA approval in the US as a high-intensity sweetener and has a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) rating at the current time.

Grown in southern China and northern Thailand, it’s used in Chinese traditional medicine for treating diabetes and obesity, as well as inflammatory conditions, colds and sore throats. It is sold by several manufacturers as a sweetener. It is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar and contains zero calories. If you decide to use it, read the package carefully to avoid it being mixed with any other ingredients, such as dextrose, another name for sugar. Most people report it has no strong flavor.

Raw honey
Raw honey has a profile of 55 GI, 17 grams of carbs per tablespoon, 64 calories
The GI of raw honey is less than that of sugar, but still high enough to warrant using in moderation. Raw honey varies widely in price based on whether it is organic, and what the bees feed on, such as wildflower versus clover, which can have an effect upon the taste to a certain degree. Try to find local honey in your farmer’s market. It will not only taste fresher and be less processed, it is good homeopathy if you suffer from seasonal allergies such as hay fever.

Honey can be used in most recipes that call for sugar, and in coffee or tea. Note that it will have a flavor of its own. Most of the time it is mild.

If you want a more medicinal honey, Manuka honey from New Zealand would be your best choice, but its tarry, bitter taste and smell is not to everyone’s liking. If you are allergic to bee stings, do not use this honey.

Stevia, 0 calories
Stevia is a plant-based sweetener sold in powder or liquid form. It’s 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar, and is suitable for diabetes and hypoglycemia diets because it has no effect on blood sugar levels and zero calories. It’s an ideal sweetener for hot drinks and can be used in cooking in its processed form. Natural stevia strongly resembles fresh alfalfa in terms of both appearance, smell and taste, so it is usually rendered into something that resembles table sugar and dissolves like it. Some people report a slight aftertaste but it is not nearly as bad as what you would get from any artificial sweeteners. When cooking with it, remember that a little goes a long way. Of all your options, this is the most natural if you buy organic, and the most versatile.

Natural sweeteners:

  • Agave
  • Applesauce
  • Birch xylitol and Corn cob xylitol
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fruit fillings and spreads
  • Maple Syrup
  • Monk fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Stevia

Determine which to use on the basis of budget, taste preferences, and the types of recipes being made. For example, fruit is ideal in many desserts as the basis of them and if you buy seasonally from your local market, they can be pretty inexpensive too.

Now that you’ve learned more about healthy natural sweeteners, it’s time to head to the kitchen to start whipping up some great naturally sweet recipes.

Naturally Sweet Recipes To Try

Estimates show that the average American eats around 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. The American Heart Associate recommends only 6 for women and 9 for men each day. Even if you don’t touch the sugar bowl, sugar and artificial sweeteners are in most pre-packed foods being churn out by the food industry.

The only way to really beat your sugar addiction and steer clear of unwanted sugar in your diet is to cook yourself, and limit your portions when it comes to dessert.

Cooking and baking can take time, but at least you will always know exactly what is in the food you are eating, and what you are serving your family and friends.