The Queen of raw sweeteners! I adore agave and have used it regularly since I started making raw desserts back in 2007.
Agave nectar is a sweetener extracted from agave, a cactus-like plant from in Mexico. It consists mostly of fructose (80%), and has a GI of 19, which is lower than most other natural sweeteners. It's about 25% sweeter than sugar, so you need less of it. Agave contains iron, calcium and potassium, plus 5% inulin, that is a prebiotic that balances sugar and glucose levels. It enhances the metabolism by stimulating the friendly bacteria in the gut. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the body can digest up to 90 gram fructose daily. That is about 0.5 cup agave. It has a neutral taste with a hint of caramel. It comes in clear, light or dark color, whereas the dark has a richer taste. It blends easily with other ingredients and don’t form crystals.
Usage: Raw agave is the ultimate sweetener for raw chocolates, with it's round, rich sweet taste, but unlike honey, it doesn't interfere with other flavors. Use dark agave for a more rich flavor, and the light agave for white chocolate, vanilla filings and everything light in color.
If agave nectar is the queen of raw sweeteners according to taste, yacon syrup is the queen of raw sweetening according to nutrition!
Yacon is a perennial plant in Andean region. It is cultivated and grown for the crisp and sweet-tasting tuberous root. It tastes like cross between apple and watermelon. The content of yacon root is mostly water and fructo-oligosaccharides. Although Yacon root tastes sweet, its sweetness come from inulin, which is an indigestible sugar. Yacon has few calories, keeps the blood sugar stable and is a probiotic. Except for antioxidants and potassium, it has 30% of the much desirable sugar FOS (fruit ogiliosaccharides). FOS is like rocket fuel for the friendly bacteria and helps the body to get rid of toxins, take up nutrition and strengthen the bones. If that wasn't enough, yacon syrup also helps in burning body fat. The sugar in yacon isn't absorbed by the body, therefore it fits people with diabetes and candida.
Usage: Yacon syrup has a fruity molasses flavor and don't give an intense sweetness like dates or honey would.
Natural xylitol comes from birch trees and forms beautiful crystals resembling cane sugar. It has 0 calories and a very low GI 7, 25% less carbs than cane sugar, and 40% less calories. Xylitol is safe for people with diabetes and candida. Studies shows that xylitol dramatically prevent bad teeth health.
Usage: The beautiful xylitol crystals can be used as a topping / coating on raw candy, truffles, fudge, cookies and so on.
Contains no sugar, even so it is 10-30 times sweeter than cane sugar which makes it the sweetest natural substance. The sweet flavor comes from different types of glucose that isn't absorbed by the body. Stevia is free from carbs and calories, and with a GI of 0 (!). It doesn't affect the insulin levels, which makes it suitable for people with diabetes and candida. Just like xylitol, stevia will not fuel the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Usage: Stevia don't have the richness of agave, yacon and mesquite, however if you combine stevia with the rich types of sweeteners you will get the best of two worlds. For frozen treats, stevia is the number one sweetener as other raw sweeteners get their sweet taste reduced when they are freezed.
Mesquite & Lucuma
If you want a subtle sweet flavor, these two super foods will do the trick. Mesquite with its fudgy flavor and lucuma being a little more fruity. The sweet flavor of mesquite comes from natural fructose. It has a GI of 25 and keeps the blood sugar stable. The sweet taste of lucuma comes from natural glucose and fructose.
Usage: Both mesquite and lucuma add creaminess to your fillings, smoothies and creams (especially lucuma) which fits perfect for raw ice creams and smoothies as it binds fats and sugar together.
Palm sugar is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic crystalline sweetener that looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar, but it's completely natural and unrefined. The sugar is created from heating the nectar from the palm tree, so it is not a raw product. However it is a good alternative to sugar for those who are not 100% raw. Nutrition: potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6.
Usage: The beautiful palmsugar crystals can be used as a topping / coating on raw candy, truffles, fudge, cookies and so on. It can be resolved in water to create liqued palm sugar with a mapel syrup character and then added as a sweetener in any raw dessert.