Natural Sugar Substitutes
As health and wellness trends continue, health-conscious consumers are looking to cut substances like processed sugar out of their diets. Clean-label, natural substitutes for traditional sugar are surging in popularity as consumers continue to demand innovative and sustainable substitutes for regular sugar. Join us at Advanced Biotech as we explore some of the popular sugar alternatives and how they can naturally enhance our everyday lives.
Coconut sugar, sometimes called coconut palm sugar, comes from the sap of the coconut palm tree, not coconuts. The sap is harvested, mixed with water, boiled into a syrup, and then allowed to dry and crystalize. The crystalized sugar is processed into granules that resemble traditional sugar. Coconut sugar is a popular sweetener in many vegan diets, as it is plant-based and minimally processed. Contrary to popular belief, coconut sugar is almost identical to refined sugar in nutrients and calories, however, it is often less processed and contains less synthetic components. Coconut sugar, while not rich in vitamins or minerals, has a low glycemic index, contains less fructose than traditional sugar, and is even said to promote gut health as it contains helpful bifidobacteria.
Monk fruit is a small, round fruit that is native to China and has recently become a popular alternative to processed sugar. Monk fruit sweeteners are created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice. Monk fruit sweeter can be left in liquid form, or like coconut sugar, is left to crystalize before being broken up into smaller granules. Monk fruit extract contains substances called mogrosides, which are intensely sweet. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, monk fruit is around 150–200 times sweeter than sugar, so should be used to scale when acting as a replacement in recipes. Monk fruit has a number of purported health benefits, including the promotion of weight loss, being safe for diabetes, and containing anti-inflammatory properties.
Tried and true agave sweetener has long been a popular replacement for refined sugar. Agave comes from the fluid inside the blue agave plant, and has a consistency and flavor that is similar to honey. Agave is a poplar ingredient in vegan baked goods as well as spirits and craft cocktails. Agave is thought to promote heart health, weight loss, and has a low glycemic index, making it a safe option for diabetics.
Those looking to make natural, healthy changes in their diets will find sugar substitutes to be both simple and delicious options. Used in baked confections, sauces, jams, and even cocktails, there is a sugar substitute to fit all diets and needs as manufacturers continue to innovate.