Nowadays, we are more than aware that sugar is bad for your health.
And we are trying our best to find some healthy alternatives.
Before we get to the best sugar substitutes for baking, we have to acknowledge one fact, it is not easy.
You want to wean yourself off the white stuff and switch to some alternatives.
But in the beginning, the taste and flavor of your baked goods don’t seem right, and you always feel you need just a touch of sugar.
Wrong. It is all a habit.
With that in mind, we do not suggest completely ditching sugar from day 1.
Instead, we support the step by step process.
With that in mind, you can start with subbing just a portion of the sugar called for in the recipe.
For example, start by subbing half of the sugar in the recipe, and go from there.
In time, you will manage to completely wean off sugar.
We also have to note that it takes time.
Sugar doesn’t just give flavor to the baked goods.
It also affects lift, moisture, browning, and many other things.
Therefore, switching to an alternative will take some experimentation until you get it right.
Why is sugar bad for you?
Before we get to the healthy sugar substitutes for baking, we have to make the case why is sugar bad for you.
Sugar can be found in almost any product on the market nowadays.
And experts believe that sugar consumption is one of the biggest causes of diabetes and other chronic diseases in the United States.
According to statistics, added sugars account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake of adults in the United States, and up to 14% for children.
Here are some things that happen because you consume too much sugar:
- You can weight, as sugar is just empty calories
- Sugar can increase the risk of heart disease, as it affects pressure, heart health, and cholesterol levels
- Sugar has been linked to acne, and can generally harm the health of your skin
- One of the biggest causes of diabetes is sugar, and it is well studied that sugar increases the risk of diabetes
- Sugar can also increase the risk of cancer and depression
- We mentioned sugar is linked with skin health, and consuming too much of it can accelerate the skin’s aging process
- Sugar drains your energy. It works like an energy drink. It gives you an instant boost, but after a while, your energy levels rapidly fall down
- Can lead to fatty liver
- Sugar increases the risk of kidney disease
- Last, but not least, we all know this since we were little kids, sugar negatively impacts dental health
The best alternatives to sugar
This is one of the most logical substitutes for sugar.
Honey is a natural sweetener that unlike sugar, brings a ton of health benefits to the table.
Simply use ¾ of a cup for one cup of sugar. Or if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sugar, use a ¾ tablespoon of honey.
There are a few things you need to understand when using honey as a substitute.
Because it does not act in the same way as sugar, you need to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
This is because the high fructose content in honey will accelerate browning.
You also need to decrease the liquid content of your recipe by 2-4 tablespoons.
This is another logical and healthy alternative to sugar.
Same as honey, maple syrup can act as a natural sweetener in your recipe.
In the same way, you substitute sugar with honey, you can use maple syrup.
In other words, ¾ of a cup of maple syrup for one cup of sugar.
It is all a matter of preference.
Some people like honey, others go for maple syrup.
The taste and flavor of your recipe will be different, depending on what you use.
Same as with honey, you need to decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees, and reduce the liquid content of the recipe by 3 tablespoons.
You can use maple syrup in any recipe, as its intense and complex flavor will be a welcomed addition to the recipe.
Just remember the more delicate flavor, the more expensive the maple syrup is.
For example, Golden and Amber disappear in baked goods, so go for dark color maple syrup which has a more robust flavor.
The next healthy and natural sweetener on the list is agave nectar.
It is a bit trickier to use. For one cup of sugar, you need to use 2/3 of a cup of agave nectar.
And if the recipe calls for a teaspoon of sugar, you need ¾ of a teaspoon of agave nectar.
And in terms of liquid content, you need to reduce it by ¼ cup.
Brown rice syrup
Brown rice syrup carries the flavor of its parent grain, meaning, brown rice.
It is a bit more delicate in flavor when compared to another popular syrup, the barley malt syrup.
If you want a more complex flavor, use it instead of corn syrup, which is another sugar that is bad for your health.
Being that brown rice syrup is vegan and organic, you can easily use it in any recipe.
Go cup for cup in terms of substitution.
The health benefits of the syrup derive from its richness in minerals and antioxidants.
Basically, this is sugar that is very finely pulverized dried dates.
Therefore, it is high in fiber and retains the vitamins and minerals from the fruit.
You can use it in place of sugar, but you do want to reduce the amount by one third.
In other words, use 2/3 of a cup of date sugar in place of 1 cup of regular sugar.
The only downside is it doesn’t dissolve completely like regular sugar.
Because of that, you can only use it in dense baked goods where the slight texture difference will not be a problem.
Nowadays, we have coconut water, coconut oil, and many other coconut products.
So, it is only logical that we get coconut sugar.
Made from the evaporated sap of the coconut palm, the sugar has almost exact same taste as brown sugar.
But it is a bit healthier and more sustainable.
You can substitute it 1:1 for both brown or granulated sugar in most baking recipes.
In the past few years, stevia has become one of the most popular sugar substitutes for baking or for making tea/coffee.
It is much more potent than regular granulated sugar.
Therefore, you need just a pinch of it to get the same sweetness.
For example, you need just 1 teaspoon for a cup of sugar.
Or 1/8 of a teaspoon for a 1 tablespoon of sugar.
That might seem like too little, but do not worry, stevia is a great sweetener.
Extra notes: to replace the bulk of the recipe, add applesauce, butter, or yogurt.