Americans eat a lot of sugar. A lot.
Think we’re overstating it? Try this fact on for size:
Two hundred years ago, Americans only ate around two pounds of sugar a year. Today, that number is closer to 152 pounds. That’s nearly half a pound of sugar consumed every day!
Unfortunately, most of our sugar consumption today comes in the form of cane sugar or corn syrup, two of the worst natural sweeteners on the market when it comes to nutrition and sustainability.
Instead of choosing these two main offenders, look towards healthy sugar substitutes that are packed with minerals and vitamins while still satisfying your sweet tooth.
Let’s dive into five of our favorite natural sweeteners perfect for giving a delicious, healthy breakfast an extra boost of sweetness.
Long packaged in plastic bear containers, processed honey has been a grocery store staple for decades. However, the extra benefits of raw honey have been creating a bit of a buzz in recent years.
Humans have been foraging hives for this delicious sweetener for thousands of years, with cave paintings depicting humans’ extracting the substance from as far back as 5000 BC!
While the sweetener might seem tailor-made for our taste buds, honey is a crucial component for bees in surviving the colder winter months.
During this time of year, flowers shrivel up and bees’ nectar supplies dwindle. So, bees feed on their honey rations while preparing for the next pollen season. A single hive can create up to 300 pounds of this delectable sweetener!
Fortunately, they only need a fraction of what they produce, so beekeepers harvest the surplus and pass it onto humans for all of our sweetening needs.
Buzzworthy fact — even though it may darken and crystallize, honey is one of the few foods that never goes bad!
Not only is raw honey delicious but it’s jam-packed with healthy vitamins and minerals unlike cane sugar and corn syrup.
These essential nutrients help reduce inflammation while promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Once it’s pasteurized, honey loses a good deal of its health benefits, so be sure to source raw honey from a farmers’ market or from your local beekeeper.
So, is honey better than sugar (cane)? Absolutely!
This sweetener makes a delicious drizzle atop a morning bowl of oatmeal or atop a dollop of protein-packed Greek yogurt. If you’re a caffeine drinker, raw honey doesn’t just work great in tea. Ladle a teaspoon or two into your morning coffee for an extra sweet start to an action-packed day.
2. Coconut Sugar
One of our favorite natural sweeteners, coconut sugar is a mainstay in our oatmeal cups due to its sustainability — not just for the planet but also for your body.
Extracted from the sap of the coconut palm tree, coconut sugar delivers only half the glycemic index of table sugar and corn syrup, providing true, long-lasting energy just when your day is getting started.
This natural sweetener is also packed with healthy minerals like zinc, iron, and phosphorus, while also providing a sizable dose of antioxidants.
Coconut sugar works as a great substitute for sugar in your favorite dessert recipe, infusing a natural nutty, caramel flavor into whatever it touches.
Of course, coconut sugar is still sugar. It’s best to keep your consumption in moderation. That’s exactly why we only add five grams of added sugar into all of our oatmeal cups. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness without tipping the scales into the unhealthy.
3. Maple Syrup
With dozens of creation myths from indigenous tribes, maple syrup is truly deserving of its own superhero origin story.
One of the most popular of these myths is that Chief Woksis of the Iroquois tribe threw his tomahawk at a maple tree in the dead of winter, spilling out some sap. As the sun warmed up the spot over the next day, the heat rendered the juice into a sweet syrup.
Breakfast has never been the same since.
Bringing your body a whopping serving of zinc and manganese, maple syrup also provides a good deal of antioxidants. Look towards darker, grade-B maple syrups as these infuse slightly more heart-healthy antioxidants than lighter syrups.
We even crystalize pure maple syrup to form nutty maple sugar and add a sprinkling in each of our Blueberry & Vermont Maple oatmeal cups.
This sweet syrup also responds extremely well to heat, so feel free to incorporate a spoonful in any part of the baking process. We think it features especially well in our marvelous Maple Strawberry Oat Bites.
4. Date Syrup
Date syrup has been a staple sweetener in the Middle East for thousands of years. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s time to give this syrup a shot.
Similar in taste and texture to molasses, date syrup is created simply by mashing dates into a thick, naturally sweet liquid. It’s high in fiber, potassium, and a handful of other recommended vitamins and minerals.
5. Fruit Jam
It doesn’t get more natural than this.
Made up of mashed or pureéd fruit, fruit jam is one of the best natural sweeteners on the market. Fruit jam concentrates all the tasty sweetness of your favorite fruits into a delicious spread that works wonders in any breakfast especially a golden-brown slice of toast.
Most jellies remove the natural pulp and seeds during the refining process while jams pack these textured fruit components into each spoonful. Not only does this keep your sweetener a little closer to its natural form, but it provides a chewy consistency missing in many jellies.
Many of the guidelines that help us pick the perfect fruit also apply when it comes to selecting fruit jams. Look for fruits that are in season for maximum freshness and aim for complementary or delightfully contrasting flavors.
Sweet Never Tasted So Healthy
Cane sugar doesn’t have a monopoly on the sweetener market.
Whether you’re looking to cut out corn syrup or simply want to add an extra punch of natural sweetness to your meals, there are countless natural sweeteners to choose from — these are only a few of our favorites.
If you love squeezing a healthy breakfast into an active lifestyle, there’s no better way than with one of our five scrumptious instant oatmeal cup flavors. With less added refined sugar and sodium than every other brand, each bite of Mylk Labs’ instant oatmeal is the perfect combination of nutritious and delicious.