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Five Alternatives to Refined Sugar

Dennis Liotta

We all know refined sugar is bad for your health. There are articles and studies that show that refined sugar and things like high fructose corn syrup wreak havoc in your body. There is no doubt; everyone should stop using refined sugar. There is just one problem with that premise; we are all addicted to sweet.

Yes, addicted!

Following WWII, the boom in sugary foods has escalated to new heights. Today, sugar is nearly in everything we eat. You know this to be true if you are a label reader. The combination of sweet and salty or sweet and savory as foodies refer to it as, has been on the rise over the last five or so years. The combination of sugar and salt is hard to beat and even harder to give up. There are a good number of noted authorities that say that both sugar and salt are more addictive than tobacco and narcotics.

Researchers claim that as an addict, you really cannot eat sugar or salt in moderation; that the cravings are very real just like any other addiction. Let us face the fact that sugar and salt have been made to be an essential part of our daily diet. Although we may want to limit them, we really cannot do it, as they are active ingredients in the processed products we eat. These products continually feed our addiction.

What can you do about it? This is not to say that you have to get involved in a 12-Step Program where you stand up, state your name and tell people that you are addicted to sweetness. You just need the insight as to what alternatives there are to get you off the junk.

Craig Cappetta, Director of Nutrition & Science at Whole Body Research International wrote a simple piece a few weeks back that described how to keep the sweet in your eats with the use of other natural sweeteners in lieu of processed sugars. This allows you to wean off the bad stuff and allow your body to process the natural sugars.

Cappetta defines five replacements for refined sugar and highlighted some tips on how to use them.

Agave Nectar

This syrup that comes from the agave plant has been around since the days of the Aztecs and the Maya, and has only gotten more popular over the last five years. It is great in coffee or tea, and can be used as a replacement for sugar in just about any recipe.

When using Agave to replace white sugar in baking, use 2/3 cup agave for every 1 cup sugar, and reduce the liquid by ¼ cup.

Yacon Syrup

This is molasses-like syrup is a sweetening agent that the Incas extracted from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant. It is known for having some extreme health benefits, and may even boost your weight loss efforts. A lot of these health benefits are lost if you bake with this syrup, it is recommend that you use it to sweeten smoothies or hot beverages. You can bake with it though use it as a replacement for molasses in any recipe, if you do bake with it.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup lends a subtle flavor change to your baked goods, and it's an amazing replacement for brown sugar in just about every recipe, from oatmeal to granola. It’s also great in somewhat savory recipes, like BBQ sauce.

When replacing sugar in baked goods, use ¾ cup of pure Maple Syrup for every 1 cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid by 3 tbsp. Make sure you read the ingredients and get pure maple syrup. Most of what is described, as maple syrup or light maple syrup on the shelves right now is mostly high fructose corn syrup flavored with maple syrup.


Honey is not just a natural sweetener; it is also a great source of antioxidants. It is a great replacement for regular sugar in teas, dressings, baked goods, like muffins or cakes, and even in cocktails replacing simple syrup.

To replace white sugar with honey when baking, use ¾ cup for every 1 cup and reduce your liquids by ½ cup. Also, reduce the oven by 25 degrees to keep whatever you’re baking from browning too much.

Coconut Palm Sugar

Not readily know, this product has a low glycemic index and a ton of vital minerals like magnesium and potassium, its no wonder coconut palm sugar is a favorite sugar replacement for many people.

It is also the absolute easiest to use when baking, because it is a 1-for-1 substitute for refined white sugar. So if your recipe calls for ¾ cup of sugar, you replace it with ¾ cup Coconut Palm Sugar as there is no adjustments required.

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