One of the big challenges I faced when I began this journey was finding healthy alternatives to sweeteners. My go-to previously was honey and dates, or to sweeten recipes through use of a variety of fruit, with my last resort brown or white sugar. When the low FODMAP diet restricted my use of honey and dates, I was faced with a choice: do my research and find some healthier alternatives, or go back to copious amounts of refined sugar in my recipes. In my mind, there was really only one choice.
Please do keep in mind that brown sugar, icing sugar, raw sugar and white sugar are all low FODMAP, and can be used in your cooking. However, if you are looking for healthier alternatives, keep reading!
Always remember that sweeteners of any kind should be consumed in moderation.
Please also keep in mind that all the following information has come from research I have completed myself. I am not an expert in nutrition and will never claim to be. If I have missed something or you have found a source that disputes any of the information I have presented here, please leave a comment and a link. I would be more than happy to do further reading and educate myself.
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar is low in FODMAPs, but be careful with larger servings – 1 tablespoon may tip some people over the edge due to high levels of Oligosaccharides and Fructose.
Coconut sugar has a similar chemical make-up to brown sugar, but does contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc and potassium. The reason that larger servings of coconut sugar may be detrimental to those on the low FODMAP diet is that it contains inulin, a type of dietary fibre. The smaller servings contain safe levels of this dietary fibre, which has prebiotic effects on the gut, meaning it can promote growth of healthy bacteria.
1 tablespoon of maple syrup is low in FODMAPs.
Maple syrup is the only product consumed by humans that comes directly from the sap of a tree. The manufacturing process does not rely on the addition of any chemicals or preservatives, and only requires heat. As a result, maple syrup is a natural sweetener. It contains some antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can contribute to heart health and greater immunity when incorporated into a healthy diet.
It is important to remember that the following benefits are only found in pure maple syrup. Many of the maple syrups sold at local supermarkets contain a plethora of other ingredients which can greatly reduce these benefits. Always read the ingredient label to check for nasties.
Rice Malt Syrup
1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup is low in FODMAPs.
Rice malt syrup is made purely from brown rice, meaning it is gluten free, vegan and all natural. There is considerable debate over whether or not rice malt syrup is low GI. If it is low GI, this means it will not cause your blood sugar levels to spike and as a result, you won’t experience the “sugar crash”. However, I have found a number of sources that support both sides. As I am not an expert in this area, I can only present the research I have found.
What are your favourite sweeteners to use in your low FODMAP recipes? Have you found any other interesting information? Leave me a comment below!