5 of the Best Natural Sweeteners
Sugar may be sweet, but it’s not always the best choice for a well-balanced, healthy diet. Processed white sugar can lead to spikes in overall blood sugar, causing “crashes” after feeling hyperactive, among other health concerns. To combat these side effects and maintain healthy blood sugar, conscientious consumers are turning back to nature to make their coffee sweet and their desserts more delicious. Incorporating natural sweeteners into meals, beverages, and snacks is easy, but choosing the right sweeteners to satisfy your sugar cravings may prove a bit more daunting. Keep reading to see why honeycomb is among five of the best natural sweeteners on the market today:
#1: Individually-Packaged Honeycomb
One of the biggest challenges in switching from processed sugar to natural sweeteners is food and drink outside the home. While it’s easy to stash a bag, jar, or bottle in the cabinet or fridge, it’s usually not convenient to take it on the go. Granulated honey is difficult to find and doesn’t offer the same flavor profile as the rich texture and taste of honeycomb.
With almost every sugar alternative in restaurants isolated to man-made, chemical-based sweeteners, it’s difficult to stay on track when having a cup of coffee after dinner, or adding some sweetness to a breakfast bowl at a local cafe. Pass the Honey delivers the best sweetener that Mother Nature has to offer – unprocessed, sustainably-sourced honeycomb – in a convenient and easy-to-transport, single-use packet. If you're wondering 'is honeycomb edible?' - it is! These wholesome, delicious and entirely-edible honeycombs are also paleo, vegetarian, and raw diet-friendly, making them a must for worry-free specialty meals while you’re out and about. Offering a direct source of naturally occurring royal jelly, propolis, and bee pollen, they’re also a great healthy-alternative sweetener option in comparison to other natural sugar substitutes.
# 2: Liquid Honey
If honeycomb is the best sugar alternative, its contents – pure, genuine honey – would come in at a close second. Honey is easy to incorporate in foods and beverages that granular sweeteners struggle to dissolve in, particularly cold beverages like lemonade. Honey is also easy to add to baked goods, whether as a little extra flavor or as a substitute for white sugar in a recipe. The general equivalent is a third to two-thirds of a cup of honey for every cup of sugar in the ingredients, depending on the level of sweetness desired.
Honey jars can be hard to transport without breakage and stickiness, so while it arguably offers superior taste, the portability leaves something to be desired. Certain honey packaging – such as single-use filled “straws” and jelly-like cups with peeled foil tops – can make it easier to stash in a purse or bag for on-the-go usage.
# 3: Stevia Extract Products
Unique among natural sweeteners, stevia is considered a non-nutritive sweetener, similar to chemically-created sugar substitutes. While it has no calories, it also means it isn’t a good source of energy or trace nutrients. Available in several forms, stevia extracts are most commonly sold as a granular product that is similar to the white sugar it replaces and is often used in baking sugar-conscious cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats.
Best used in food and drinks with strong flavors, stevia extracts have a slightly bitter aftertaste that some users notice, making it an experiment-and-see type of sweetener. While not everyone’s cup of sweetened tea, stevia has provided diet and sugar-conscious consumers with another mainstream sweetener alternative.
#4: Coconut Sugar
Made from the dried sap of the coconut palm, coconut sugar looks like raw natural sugar in appearance – brown and granular – but has a number of trace minerals and nutrients that regular sugar does not. It also contains a substance called inulin, which slows the absorption of sugar and ensures that coconut sugar has lower glycemic index levels than its cane-based counterpart. These features don’t lower the overall caloric value, however, and coconut sugar should not be considered a “healthy alternative” for sugar as far as traditional dieting is concerned.
Coconut sugar has a deeper flavor that is better suited to cooking, baking, or marrying with strong flavors. It tends to overpower applications like tea or lighter fare, which makes it a less-than-ideal natural sweetener for everyday use.
#5: Maple Syrup
This classic northern treat makes a very good natural sweetener – as long as genuine, unadulterated maple syrup is invited to the party. Derived from the collected and condensed sap of the maple tree, the distinct flavor of woodsy maple syrup is part and parcel of its sweetness, so while it does make an excellent natural sweetener, it’s a fairly aggressive flavoring as well.
Like other syrups, it’s high in calories and offers on-demand energy for short periods of time, but ultimately its best role is when it’s paired with breakfast dishes or stirred into hot beverages. Additionally, like liquid honey and other natural sugar substitutes, it’s cumbersome to carry around and generally not available in purse-sized bottles.
Summary | Natural Sweeteners: Healthy-Alternatives To Sugar
Natural sweeteners can improve the overall quality of any diet, as well as aid in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, but if convenience and taste are the primary goals, stick to unaltered honeycomb and natural honey products. Maple syrup, stevia, and coconut sugar all deserve a special place in the baking cabinet, but nothing beats pure, sweet honey for a rich and flavorful sweetener experience.
- Prakash, Sheila. “4 Rules for Successfully Swapping Honey for Sugar in Any Baked Goods.” Kitchn (thekitchn.com), (no publish date), https://www.thekitchn.com/4-rules-for-successfully-swapping-honey-for-sugar-in-any-baked-goods-230156. Accessed July 29, 2019.
- Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “Coconut Sugar – A Healthy Sugar Alternative or a Big, Fat Lie?” Healthline.com, May 25, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-sugar#section2. Accessed July 29, 2019.
- Hansen, Kristine. “10 Surprising Facts About Maple Syrup.” Taste of Home.com, (no publish date), https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/10-surprising-facts-maple-syrup/. Accessed July 29, 2019.