Ditch the sugar with these healthier options


Jan 06, 2016 by Aman

Many of us try to cut down on sugar, but it can seem like a real uphill struggle, particularly when we start reading the ingredients of foods we regularly buy. Sugar seems to be present in so many processed foods in the West, and often it shouldn't really be necessary.

Whether you want to cut down for the sake of your weight or your teeth, or if you've had cancer and believe that sugar feeds unhealthy cell division, here are some alternatives you might like to try instead.

Bee healthier with honey

Honey tastes a little sweeter than sugar, so if you use it as a full replacement in baking and cooking, you won't need quite as much. It's also not quite as high in calories, or in carbohydrates as refined sugar, though it is still high in both these areas. It does, however, have antibacterial properties, so whether you eat it or you mix it with yoghurt and put it on your face as a mask, it is largely better for you than refined cane or beet sugar. It tastes a little different – there's a flowery taste that can be quite heady and lovely when you get used to it. Try adding it to your coffee or tea as a replacement for sugar.

Sweeten things up with fruit juice

Instead of adding sugar to stewed fruits that you cook, or even to your cereal, why not add naturally sweet apple juice? It might sound a little odd, but muesli or another healthy cereal in juice is a seriously tasty alternative for breakfast, and it doesn't taste weird in the way you might expect. Add some stewed fruits on top for more fibre and interest, and if you've already made those with fruit juice, you're going to get quite a kick of sugars that are easier for your body to digest.

Bake with fruit

On a similar theme to the fruit juice, if you replace sugar in a cake recipe with the flesh of a sweet fruit, you get a wonderfully moist and sweet cake that has a far better glycaemic index, and which is generally better for you. A good example is banana cake because the main ingredients are naturally so sweet. However, you can grate a couple of sweet apples into an average Victoria sponge to replace half the sugar, and you won't miss the white stuff at all. Try an apple and cinnamon cake without any sugar at all. It tastes amazing!

Nectar from the gods

Agave nectar is a natural sugar – a combination of fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (simple sugar) – that is extracted from the Mexican agave plant. It's easier for your body to process than ordinary sugar because of the way its chemical makeup interacts with our bodies, so although it's still very high in calories, it is a little better for you. Additionally, its glycaemic index is low in comparison to sugar – this means its level of carbohydrates is quite low.