Sugar

It’s safe to say that if there’s one common thread we share as Americans (besides our unwavering patriotism), it’s a sugar addiction. Every era has its vices, so blame not (ok, well maybe blame the HFCS corn sugar lobbyists a little bit). But, we are a species in evolution. Things are rapidly changing and hopefully expanding waistlines and the accompanying diabetic epidemic will  soon be but a blip in history book timelines. For our survival, we must kick the sugar habit. But that doesn’t mean the transition can’t taste delicious. Check out these low glycemic sweeteners to help make it a sweet goodbye.

1. Agave

The syrup of the agave cactus is probably better known as Tequila, but it can also provide a healthier alternative to sugar. Controversy has surrounded agave in recent years (claims that it was being cut with HFCS abounded) but researching the options can help locate a high quality brand like Madhava.

2. Coconut Palm Sugar

Substitute this low-glycemic sweetener for sugar and you’ll be hard-pressed to notice the difference. With about half the sugars of cane sugar, coconut sugar is also an excellent source of minerals (magnesium, potassium, zinc) and B vitamins. It’s also an incredibly sustainable product, which makes it an excellent choice just on its environmental impact.

3. Lucuma

The dried lucuma fruit (also called “eggfruit”) is naturally sweet but low on the glycemic index and can be used in place of cane sugar. It also contains a wide range of nutrients including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B3, beta carotene, and fiber, as well as a bioavailable plant protein.

4. Stevia

The stevia leaf is intensely naturally sweet—more than 300 times sweeter than sugar! But this botanical contains zero sugars. Dried as a powder or found in a liquid extract form, a little goes a very long way. You can use to sweeten coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. When baking, you will need to re-work your recipes that call for sugar to account for the small volume of stevia used. It can have a slightly bitter astringency especially if you use too much.

5. Yacon

A South American tuber, the fresh yacon root tastes more like an apple. When pressed into a syrup, it has a sweet almost maple-like flavor. The yacon  is loaded with fructooligosaccharides—indigestible sugars that actually help bring balance to your intestinal flora.  It’s a great sweetener in desserts and smoothies. You can also find dried yacon slices, which make a healthy and delicious low-sugar snack.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: GevansBham