Honey was chosen and accepted as a healthy alternative to processed sugar. It is being included in several recipes as a natural sweetener. But as more people are turning vegan and largely health-conscious, honey is being substituted. Another reason is the expense of honey when it reaches the market. Thus more vegan and healthy alternatives have now found their way to our recipes.
10 Best Natural Honey Substitutes
Due to its unique texture and taste, it is quite difficult to find the perfect alternative to honey. But when you turn vegan and face problems of weight gain or diabetes, it needs to be replaced. Here are our top 10 honey substitutes:
1. Maple Syrup
Human beings have been consuming Maple syrup as a natural sweetener for several centuries. It is naturally occurring in the sap of Sugar Maple trees. This sap is collected by drilling holes into the wood of the trees. The collected sap is then boiled to remove the water content. The final product is a dense, translucent syrup that needs further filtration before consumption. Maple syrup is said to regulate blood sugar levels. It contains several useful nutrients and can substitute honey in many recipes. Many processed varieties may be available in markets, always buy the natural ones.
2. Agave Nectar
Produced from the Agave plant leaves, this is yet another nature sweetener mostly used in the West. The original agave syrup is filtered from the fluid extracts of Agave leaves. After heating and concentrating, it is marketed under the term, Agave Nectar. It is important to note that the several levels of processing reduce the natural health benefits from the syrup. But its low Glycemic index value makes it best for diabetes patients. Agave is also a good choice for vegan consumers.
3. Date Paste
Comparatively unconventional from the other sweeteners. This is an alternative which can be bought from the market or prepared at home. Date paste is high in nutrient content and very low in Glycemic index. Dates are good for digestion and heart health. Another benefit is its ease of availability in the markets. There is no need to buy the highly expensive Medjool variety. You can buy the standard variety, widely found in supermarkets. The paste can be easily prepared by soaking the pitted dates in water, overnight and blending it in a food processor. You can also add flavors like vanilla or lemon. The smoothened paste can be used as an alternative for honey.
4. Apple Sauce
Baking is one area where sugar comes to play a major role. It is important to bring the right texture and consistency while baking. Hence, choosing a substitute for honey or sugar needs to be done carefully. Applesauce can substitute the honey as well as the oil or the butter components in baking. It can be added to products like cakes, bread, and muffins. Cookies and similar products that need a crunch should not be made using Apple sauce. They are high in fiber content that improves digestion. If you are buying ready-made applesauce, try to get the unsweetened version. This makes sure you are only consuming natural fruit sugar. On the other hand, you can go ahead and prepare apple sauce at home.
5. Brown Rice Syrup
Made from broken brown rice, this is slightly stickier than honey. The sweetness is on the lower side, hence you would have to use more quantity. It is also said that people who have diabetes should refrain from using Brown rice syrup as a honey alternative. The high glycemic index will prompt a sudden rise in sugar levels.
6. Coconut Nectar
Naturally occurring and minimally processed Coconut nectar is an excellent alternative for honey or other sweeteners. It is low in glycemic index and rich in minerals that are good for the human body. Coconut nectar is extracted from the flowers of the coconut palm. Though it comes from the same source, the nectar does not taste like coconuts. It is not recommended for baking for the change in texture but can be used with granola, pancakes, etc
A byproduct of the extraction of sugar from sugar beets or cane. Different types of molasses are said to be available in the market for a long time back. They contain minerals and vitamins beneficial for bone and heart health. It is used in famous holiday treats like gingerbread cookies and other food products like barbeque sauce, etc. Molasses are sticky in texture, hence a perfect substitute for honey.
8. Yacon Root Syrup
Extracted from the tuberous roots of the Yacon plant, this is a healthy alternative for honey. Though this has been used for medicinal purposes for a long time, now it is being known for the sweetening properties. The mineral and fiber contents make it right for consumption by diabetes patients, cholesterol patients, etc. It is also said to regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels. But keep in mind that Yacon root syrup should not be included in cooking. The insoluble fibers in the syrup will be broken down by cooking. Yacon root syrup is also low in Glycemic index.
9. Barley Malt Syrup
The malty flavor makes Barley Malt syrup a favorite of many. It can be consumed with pancakes and used for baking. Extracted from sprouted barley makes it healthy and filled with micronutrients. It is said to be “half sweeter” than the table sugar and hence would need to be consumed in slightly more quantities. But also make sure it is in check because of the high maltose content.
10. Corn Syrup
Two types of corn syrups available in the market are light corn syrup and dark corn syrup. It is extracted from the starch of corn. Can be used in products like cookies, candies, etc as it does not crystallize like other syrups. Corn syrup is also said to preserve the freshness of cooked food products. The dark corn syrup is said to be similar to molasses, hence used in barbeque products.