Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave Nectar… All natural liquid sweeteners

In my last posting, I recommended to avoid consuming refined sugar and switch to other natural sweeteners to improve your health, or at least reduce the risks of suffering some illness linked to the excessive use of sugar.

Here are a few options of liquid sweeteners, describing their characteristics, Ayurvedic qualities, and ‘how they feel and taste’ based on my personal experience.

Raw Honey

Raw Honey

Raw Honey

Made by hard working bees, this is one of the oldest sweeteners in the world history, and still a staple nowadays that has regained popularity int he last years for its wonderful healing properties. It has a distinctive slightly caramelized flavor, that slightly changes upon the flower(s) it’s originally made of. It’s one of the golden ingredients in Ayurveda which states it should always be consumed raw, and never cooked. According to Ayurveda, cooking honey changes its chemistry and makes it toxic.  I personally love honey in my coffee and homemade chai. It ads an extra flavor that makes it irresistibly yummy and comforting. When possible, choose local raw honey which might help with your allergies.

Ayurveda insight: Good for Kapha Dosha. Even though it’s sweet, because it’s also astringent and drying, it should be consumed in moderation by Vata and Pitta people.

Maple Syrup

It comes from the sap of the maple tree. It is naturally extracted with no chemicals. In USA, it is classified and sold under two major grades: A and B. Grade A is primarily meant for eating, while Grade B is so dark that it’s generally only used for cooking or baking. Grade A is broken into three subgrades, which are measured by their translucence: Light Amber, Medium Amber and Dark Amber. The lighter, the milder the flavor is. Make sure that you are buying pure maple syrup and not a fake syrup made of high fructose or high glucose syrup. Maple syrup is pretty pricey, so a cheap syrup should be a warning that it is not pure. Maple syrup has a very characteristic and unique flavor that you might need to get accustomed to before truly enjoying it, if you haven’t grown up eating it. It is mostly used in baking, and not as much as a drink sweetener.

Ayurveda insight: Good for Vata and Pitta.

Amber Agave Nectar

Amber Agave Nectar

Agave Nectar

Even though agave nectar has traditionally been used as a natural sweetener in Mexico for centuries, it is not until recent years that it’s become popular in the US. There’s a controversy around its production and whereas it is natural and healthy or not. Based on my personal research and reading, the production process determines the quality of the product. I’ve been using myself organic agave syrup for a few years, and I love its light and sweet flavor on pancakes. I also use it for vinaigrettes, and for recipes that call for honey and involve cooking it.

Ayurveda insight: Good for Vata and Pitta.

…. And what about sweeteners in powder form, easy to carry and to take places? Click on the linked title below to check out my favorites:

Coconut Sugar, Xylitol, Stevia – all natural powdered sweeteners