Find out if natural sweeteners are healthier than white sugar. Agave nectar, maple syrup, honey and raw sugar are natural sweeteners that are alternatives to white sugar, and we'll show how to cook with them.
More and more, people are replacing granulated white sugar with natural sweeteners. But are they any healthier? Let's find out. Agave nectar gives smoothies and iced drinks a touch of sweetness. It's made mostly of a type of sugar called fructose. Research shows eating too much fructose, particularly from sweeteners, may be unhealthy. Maple syrup is best for pouring out pancakes, waffles, and French toasts, as well as flavoring a marinade or salad dressing. The real stuff, nut corn syrup with maple flavoring, has a small amount of antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Honey provides a delicate sweet flavor to dressings, marinades, and slaws. Honey, especially buckwheat honey, has a modest amount of antioxidants. Turbinado, or raw sugar, is good for topping cookies and quick breads with a sugar crackle. It's essentially cane sugar that hasn't been processed as much as wheat sugar. So really, you should be thinking of all of these natural sweeteners the way you think about sugar as something you want to try to limit. Added sugar in any form adds calories and carbohydrates without adding nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. For more healthy eating tips, come to eatingwell.com.