Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you need to completely banish sugar from your diet. A balanced diet can and should include natural sweeteners, along with the occasional sweet treat. The reason sugar has gotten a bad rap is because we eat so much of it. Sugar should be thought of as a condiment to be used sparingly, not a food group to be eaten liberally. Choose more natural sources of sugar, ones that contain vitamins and minerals along with the sweetness, rather than the more refined and processed chemical ones available.
Here are 4 natural sweeteners to try as part of a healthy, balanced diet:
1. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is from the sap of the sugar, red, or black maple tree. It contains the trace mineral manganese, which is a cofactor for a number of enzymes that are needed for energy production in the body. Along with manganese, maple syrup also contains zinc, copper, potassium, magnesium, and calcium .
Surprisingly, a bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. Raw, unpasteurized honey contains B vitamins, iron, and manganese, as well as many other enzymes and antioxidants .
3. Date Sugar
Date sugar is made from dehydrated, ground dates. Dates contain B vitamins, copper, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, folic acid, zinc, and selenium. Date sugar can be used as a replacement for brown sugar in most recipes and has a slightly sweet, butterscotch taste .
4. Fruit Purees
Apple or banana purees are great for adding a touch of sweetness to yogurt, oatmeal, or even baking. Fruits contain fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid, along with various phytonutrients and antioxidants .
 Murray, Michael, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Toronto: Atria Books, 2005. Print.