Cutting down on sugary treats can be hard when you’ve got a sweet tooth-unless you consider using alternatives to sugar. Unfortunately, as good as sugar tastes, it doesn’t contain any nutrients and can even make you hungrier. Thankfully, you don’t have to give up on sweetness entirely to cut sugar out of your diet. These days, there are many sweeteners that don’t have the same downsides. Ready to try alternatives to sugar? Here are our top five proven picks.
Stevia is perhaps the most popular sweetener on the market right now-and for good reason. Derived from the leaves of a South American plant, stevia remarkably has zero calories and even has benefits for your health. Studies have shown it can lower blood pressure and blood sugar, fighting heart problems and diabetes. Plus, it’s available in a liquid form as well as a powder form for easy use in a variety of recipes.
Many people don’t yet know about erythritol, but it’s definitely a strong contender along with stevia. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, and the best part about it is that it tastes almost exactly like real sugar. If you’re looking to cut sugar out of your diet, this makes it the easiest way to switch. It’s not completely calorie-free, but it only contains 0.24 calories per gram-just 6% of sugar’s calories.
Xylitol is another sugar alcohol extracted from corn and similar plants. Relatively well-known compared to erythritol, it’s commonly found in sugar-free gum and sugar-free mints. Xylitol does have ten times more calories than xylitol, but it’s still 40% less calorific than sugar-a testament to just how easily sugar can cause weight gain. Despite that, one benefit it has over erythritol is its proven dental benefits. Studies have shown this sweetener can increase calcium absorption to protect your teeth and even reduce the risk of cavities and decay.
4: Yacón Syrup
Similar to stevia, yacón syrup is a sweetener that comes from a South American plant leaf. However, despite their similar origins, these two sweeteners have a lot of differences. For one, yacón syrup only comes in a liquid form, which is much darker and thicker than stevia syrup. It also outweighs stevia in fructooligosaccharides. Often referred to as FOS to avoid the tongue twister name, this indigestible type of sugar has been shown to reduce hunger and increase healthy gut bacteria. Unfortunately, though, you cannot use yacón syrup in cooked recipes because cooking breaks down the FOS.
5: Fresh & Frozen Fruit
Finally, one sugar alternative many people don’t think of is fruit. While most fruits are higher in calories than the sweeteners listed above, they also have nutritional benefits that balance out that downside. Whether fresh or frozen, fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals that help reduce disease, and you can find it in tons of recipes or just eat whole for a sweet snack. You can get sugar-free fruit dishes delivered from restaurants like Carrotsticks & Cravings or The Connoisseur Concerto.