Sugar is bad for your health. It’s one of the few things all experts agree on, but unfortunately, it’s still prevalent in many foods and drinks today.
One example that has become increasingly popular as a substitute for white sugar is agave nectar or syrup – although some people will argue whether this sweetener should be considered natural because there have been reports claiming artificial ingredients are often used during processing!
Agave nectars are one of the most popular sweeteners for people who follow a plant-based diet. But what if you can’t have agave? Fear not. There are plenty of other options! This blog post will list 9 substitutes for agave and all the different uses they have in cooking and the health benefits of each.
What is Agave Nectar?
The agave plant is native to the Southern United States and Latin America. Although it has been used in Mexico for centuries, its sap was boiled to produce a sweetener known as miel de agave.
It also produces sugars that are fermented into tequila which is one of Mexico’s best-known exports today. Like many plants, agave likely has some health benefits but because refining and processing transforms the raw product so greatly from what nature intended sometimes those properties get lost or diminished over time due to heavy handling during cultivation/processing procedures such as heating up with steam until their natural sugar content liquefies
Agave nectar/syrup can be found in various health food stores marketed as diabetic-friendly and not spiking blood glucose levels as regular table sugar does – however research has also shown traces of other unnatural substances so sometimes an informed consumer must weigh benefits with risks before making their final decision.
Below I have compiled a list of alternatives that are worth considering before making your final decision about agave syrup.
So onto the substitutions and other contenders!
Honey is a delicious, thick, and sweet liquid brought to us by honeybees. The color, taste, and smell are largely dependent on various factors, including the types of flowers that the pollen and nectars are collected from, the temperature of the climate, and the type of bee used to produce it. Honey has virtually no fiber or protein but contains bioactive plant compounds with antioxidants.
Saying that though honey does increase blood sugar levels. This could potentially be an issue for people who have diabetes, but fortunately, there are other sweeteners out there if you’re trying to avoid those spikes! If you have any doubts, it is always wise to consult your GP before making any major changes to your diet.
Honey is a wonderful addition to recipes like hot teas, drinks, pancakes, toast, muesli, muffins, and many more.
Honey is a versatile product and one of the best agave substitutes on this list. If you can get raw and unfiltered honey, like this Brazilian Honey from Nature Nates, do so as the less processing and refining, the more health benefits you will receive.
2. Corn Syrup
Baking recipes that call for corn syrup are usually treated with suspicion as people tend to confuse corn syrup with the high-fructose syrup used in manufacturing.
Corn syrup is simply sugar extracted from the kernels of corn. This clear bottle of liquid can be found on your grocery store shelves. Corn syrup off the shelf has been processed into liquid form to be used as easily as any other type of cooking or baking ingredient.
It is a refined sugar so should be used sparingly and the health benefits are few and far between if any.
If you do decide to go for corn syrup as your preferred sweetener, then try Karo Light Corn Syrup as the lighter version is at least not as calorific as its full-fat neighbors on the shelves.
3. Muscovado Sugar
Muscovado sugar is deliciously brown and has a texture that any other type of sugar can’t match. Not only does it taste better, but it also may have some health benefits as well! Unlike white processed sugars, which are stripped of all vitamins and minerals, muscovado contains antioxidants like flavonoids (think red grapes) to help fight cancer.
As all added sugars should be treated with caution, muscovado sugar is no different. One or two teaspoons per day should suffice your sweet tooth needs without endangering your waistline in the process.
I love this muscovado sugar from Mauritius as it is raw, largely unprocessed and I can attest to how well it goes in everything from cakes to cocktails!
Stevia has many health benefits that make it worth trying. Stevia is often touted as a safe and healthy sugar substitute, with the potential to reduce calorie intake, blood sugar levels, and risk for cavities in addition to other sweets-related diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.
People are always looking for healthier options when sweetening up their food choices – one such option being Stevia due to its association with reduced calories (as opposed to refined sugars), improved insulin sensitivity (compared against glucose spikes linked to high glycemic index foods), as well as lower risks for cancerous tumors or dental decay from the consumption of candies containing the stevioside extract.
Stevia can be used in breakfast foods such as pancakes and baked oatmeal. It is also great in cream-based dishes like puddings or homemade frozen desserts, sauces, and side dishes.
When baking you can mix 1:1 stevia and sugar to keep the sweetness with fewer calories and less of a sugar spike too!
I always strive to get the best quality organic ingredients so I wholeheartedly recommend you try Pyure Organic Stevia if you decide Stevia is the best way forward for you.
5. Fruit Syrups
Fruit syrups aren’t really about health benefits. Made of cane sugar and water they fall into the naughty but nice category.
If you are looking to make some delicious sweet teas, drinks, cocktails, or anything that goes in a glass, then fruit syrups are the way to go.
These fun and frivolous syrups come in a variety of flavors but I found this affordable mixed pack from Torani that gives you strawberry, peach, and raspberry flavors so you can have triple the fun testing out some tasty drinks.
They even go great on milkshakes!
Dates are nutritious fruit that can offer some pretty impressive health benefits. Three dates provide about 200 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrates with about 5 grams of fiber and no fat per serving, plus they also contain smaller amounts of B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium iron, magnesium potassium, zinc manganese – in other words, not just sugar bombs or empty-calorie packets but rather an all-round healthy choice for people who want to enjoy something sweet without feeling guilty!
The best recipes to add dates to are cakes, bakes, tagines, rice dishes, curries, and salads. My favorite date variety is Deglet Nour and I can highly recommend this delicious ingredient to your pantry.
7. Blackstrap Molasses
Many people have found that blackstrap molasses is a healthier alternative to refined sugars and agave nectar. This sweetener has been shown to be lower on the glycemic index than traditional sugar, which will not spike your blood sugar as much.
Blackstrap also contains significant amounts of calcium, iron magnesium, and manganese among many other vitamins and minerals.
This Plantation Blackstrap Molasses ticks many boxes being organic and largely unrefined and I highly recommend adding this into your kitchen routine if this is the sweetener you decide is best for you!
8. Coconut Nectar
It’s not hard to get excited about the new darling of a sweetener, coconut nectar. This powerhouse is rich in iron and zinc, as well as 17 different amino acids and antioxidants – you’ll also find vitamins C & B here! To enjoy these same micronutrients, one would need to eat over 17 times as much honey or 282 refined, white sugar cubes.
Coconut nectar tastes nothing like coconut and its unique, earthy sweetness makes it a super versatile ingredient for baking and cooking. From pancakes to toast or coffee drinks to smoothies – you can use this sweetener anywhere!
Coconut NECTAR is the perfect substitute where liquid sugar would normally be used in your favorite recipes because of its rich flavor and texture that will not alter the taste too much from what was originally intended. Try this amazing Coconut Secret Nectar – the secret is out!
9. Maple Syrup
Real Maple Syrup is a healthier and more nutritious alternative to agave nectar, as it contains thirteen times the calcium of honey, three times the iron of sugar syrup, and two-thirds less glycemic index than refined white sugar.
It also has numerous antioxidants which help fight against inflammatory disease by fighting free radicals in your body. Real maple syrup may be best for you if you want to protect against cancer because it helps reduce inflammation that can lead to cellular damage from toxins or carcinogens like radiation exposure etc. In addition, real maple syrup will improve digestion: studies show that eating foods with natural sugars such as fructose slows down stomach emptying time (which leaves food inside longer), making people feel fuller faster, so they eat fewer calories throughout their day!
Maple syrup can be used for more than just topping your pancakes and waffles. The sweet liquid is also great in dressings, reductions, sauces, hot cereal, and even on top of fried vegetables!
The Coombs Family has been making this delicious, organic maple syrup for decades and I can recommend giving it a try!
Agave Nectar is a popular sugar substitute and food ingredient, but it can be pricey and has a bit of controversy circling it.
If you’re looking for an alternative to this sweetener that doesn’t compromise on quality, then these are your top choices. Whether using them in baking ingredients or as an alternative sweetener, the above substitutes will give your recipes all of the sweetness they need without costing too much time, effort or money!
Let us know which one you tried out below in our comments section!