After last week’s post about the 8 foods people think are healthy, but aren’t I want to take off my Bad News Betty hat and give you guys something that will add a little spring in your step as you’re trawling the aisles of your local health food store. We all know that white sugar ain’t great. In fact, it’s kind of like the crack of the culinary world (if you want to be lenient enough to call it food). And as I pointed out last week, agave isn’t the holy grail of sweeteners that it is made out to be. So, to clear away those dark clouds looming over a potentially un-sweetened life, here is a list of awesome natural sweetener options.
1. Raw honey 粗製（生）ハチミツ
Unless you’re a strict vegan, I would say that raw honey is the sweetener of choice. It’s definitely my favourite. Read all about the benefits of honey here. Superfoods expert David Wolfe says to look for wild honey because it is lower in free fructose and higher in trace mineral content.
2. Maple syrup メープルシロップ
Maple syrup is my favourite sweetener if I’m baking cookies of oatmeal cake, and it is divine over baked fruit. It is also full of super beneficial minerals. However, be sure to buy authentic organic maple syrup. The conventional stuff is usually fake coloured sugar water and not at all healthy.
3. Brown rice syrup
Sorry to tease! I have just read that brown rice syrup may contain high levels of arsenic. This is not cool. I’m going to continue to look into it, but this is the study that all of the health news reports are coming from.
4. Dates (or date paste) ナツメヤシペースト/シロップ
Dates are very sweet, but they are great because they are packed with fibre. If using whole, the fresh Medjool dates are the best. If paste is required, buy organic date paste or make your own by blending or cooking them with a little water over low heat.
5. Stevia ステビア
If you’re diabetic, have candida or cancer, or you’re just worried about your blood sugar levels at all, stevia is the way to go. It won’t mess with your blood sugar levels at all. The green leaves are better than the white extract though. It’s super sweet, so you only need a small amount.
6. Yacon ヤーコン
Yacon (a relative to the Jerusalem artichoke) is commonly available as dehydrated chips and as a syrup. The syrup is rich in iron and only mildly glycemic. Just be sure to by certified organic.
Update: Xylitol is one I am not promoting any more. It is processed by man-made chemicals, which means it is not natural. And I’m not a fan of anything that is not natural!
8. Coconut sugar
With a minimal effect on blood sugar levels, coconut sugar is emerging as a favourite among vegans and raw foodies. It isn’t technically raw though, being the boiled down sap harvested from unopened coconut blossoms.
9. Molasses 廃糖密
If you can handle its rich flavour, molasses is a super healthy addition to your diet. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, but be sure to select unsulfured, organic sugarcane molasses. Read more here.
Note: Even though each of the above is a natural sweetener and they are healthy to consume, most of them are still technically sugar and should be enjoyed as treats rather than in bulk.