This is the absolute easiest thing to change in your diet because who doesn't love sugar. The only thing that makes this switch hard is that besides your healthy fats which we will talk about soon natural sugar can be expensive. But like anything else in this healthy eating journey you take your time and implement what you can when you can. Some of my favorite sugars to use are raw honey, raw sugar, grade B maple syrup and my newest find is coconut sugar. The honey and the coconut sugar are both low glycemic so I try to use them as much as possibly. Their are other sugars that you can use that are natural such as stevia and agave. My personal verdict is still out on agave so I won't spend any time on it. As for stevia it is so touchy in the amount that you use that I don't use it often.
What does low glycemic levels mean? It is the measurement of sugars in food and how fast or how slow the body absorbs them. Every time you eat something that has a high GI level it spikes your blood sugar causing fat storage. Eating to many foods with a high Gi can cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and of course weight gain. Besides trying to lose weight I also have a very very low tolerance for sugar and so the low GI sugars help my body absorb them in a normal fashion. Here is how what you want to look for: A high GI level is 70 and up, a medium level is 56-69 and a low GI is 55 and below. Here is a link to a chart I found on GI levels in different foods.
Raw honey is amazing, it's one of Gods true gifts. Honey not only has a low glycemic index of 55 but has healing qualities, it's good for burns and cuts because of it natural antiseptic quality. I love honey but in baked goods it can make them dense so I use it manly in things like granola, these cookies, oatmeal or my personal favorite on some sprouted toast with coconut oil. Those two together are like they were made for each other. We have also been known to mix coconut oil and honey together to put on our popcorn. MMMMMM. The reason you want your honey raw is because when it is heated in the pasteurizing process it kills all the good things that makes honey worth eating.
Coconut sugar is my favorite sugar of all time. It comes from the sap of coconut tree. It has a low glycemic index of 35 it tastes great and you can get it granulated so that you can bake with it or make marshmallow's like I'm doing today. According to wikipedia Coconut sugar is high in potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and has vitamins such as B1,2,3 and 6. If you want to know why these are important to your body click on the link above.
Raw sugar: I don't really use this sugar as much now that I'm trying to lose weight but it is a good alternative to processed sugar and it is full of vitamins and mineral. The reason you want to stay away from processed sugars or fake sugar substitutes is that they are chemically striped of any nutrient. Or with the fake stuff they are just fake man made sweeteners that have side effects that are harmful to your body.
Grade B maple syrup: While both grade and A and Grade B are natural and come from the sap of a maple tree. Grade A comes from the early spring sap and Grade B comes from the later sap which according to this site the grade B contains higher levels of vitamins. I use it mainly for pancakes and to sweeten oatmeal. My family and I are not real maple fans unless it comes with a side of flap jacks.
I hope this helps you take another look at your pantry. The best way to find out what is best for your family is to just look up anything you have questions on. That is how I came to find out what I wanted to change, it has become so natural to us we don't even think about it.