If you have food allergies or follow a special diet, date sugar is a fantastic sugar substitute that keeps your recipes safe and delicious. In this article, you can learn about the benefits of date sugar from a nutritional standpoint and how it stacks up against other sugar substitutes for folks with food allergies.
In the world of food allergies, special diets, and dietary restrictions, it is easy to feel like every place you turn, there’s another food that must be substituted or adjusted to keep yourself safe. This can be overwhelming, and honestly, exhausting. Constantly reading labels and doing research on the newest trends companies have adopted to disguise unhealthy ingredients in their products feels like a never-ending scavenger hunt. And all along the scavenger hunt, it is easy to find substitute products that are safe, but many times, do not taste anything like the original.
Cane sugar and sugar substitutes are one of these tricky ingredients to navigate in the growing world of food. Upon entering the sugar aisle at the store, you are greeted with dozens of different brands and sugar alternatives; it can feel impossible to decipher what is not only healthy, but what will even taste good. Is something like beet sugar or xylitol truly healthier than just regular sugar? Besides that, you know you’ve tried sugar alternatives and they made the food taste worse than it did unsweetened. Let me introduce you to date sugar.
Date sugar is exactly what it sounds like, sugar made purely from dates. Dates are a common food in Middle Eastern cuisines and are both highly sweet, but also highly nutritionally dense. At PurDate, we crush whole dates into a fine sugar consistency that is similar in texture to regular sugar, but it has many improved nutritional properties compared to typical refined sugar. For one, sugar is stereotypically known to cause a “crash” a few hours after you consume it because of its high glycemic index. On the other hand, PurDate’s date sugar has a lower glycemic index, so you can enjoy your sweetened foods without the worries of crashing later in the day. This can be important for people who have autoimmune diseases to prevent sugar spiking in your system which can lead to additional autoimmune disease issues later in life. (Read more here) Additionally, date sugar is high in fiber. For those with digestive issues, this can help increase your fiber intake without having to take supplements. Typically, nutrients are best absorbed through food rather than pills, so this is a fantastic way to improve your gut health through whole foods rather than more medication every day.
Honey is a naturally occurring sweetener that people will often use in place of sugar. While honey can have great benefits for people with allergies in improving their seasonal allergy symptoms, it is high in calories compared to date sugar, with date sugar at almost half the amount of calories per serving. Additionally, honey is subject to contamination in its manufacturing process, particularly with lower grade honey, that could potentially pose a risk to individuals with compromised immune systems. Since PurDate is produced on a local farm in Tunisia with no top 9 food allergies (wheat, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and sesame) produced on site, the risk of contamination is very low, making it a safer option. Honey is also limited to a syrup consistency which is not always the best for cooking or baking needs. Date sugar is optimal because it comes in a traditional cane sugar consistency that can be modified as needed for a recipe into a liquid or a paste.
For vegetarians who are concerned about how bees are treated in the honey production process and particularly vegans who opt out of eating any animal by-products, PurDate date sugar provides an ideal alternative which eliminates the ethical concerns around a sugar alternative in your diet. PurDate is proud of the fact that its date sugar is ethically produced with 100% dates, making it a great option for vegan and vegetarian diets.
Another common substitute that people look to when reducing their cane sugar intake is maple syrup. With maple syrup, however, there is still the limitation on consistency that you have with honey. While maple syrup can be hardened into a soft paste, it is typically not available in a traditional cane sugar consistency. Additionally, maple syrup is harvested from trees, leaving it subject to contamination via tree pollen. For individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome who react to foods that are in the same family as their environmental allergens, this can be problematic and leave the individual vulnerable to allergic reaction upon ingesting the maple syrup.
Another common cane sugar substitute is coconut sugar. With the growing vegan movement, there are many companies utilizing coconut milk and coconut sugar in their products as a way to easily swap out typically non-vegan ingredients for vegan ones. However, coconut is one of the top 9 allergens as coconut is classified as a tree nut. Therefore, it is not friendly to people with common food allergies. Additionally, coconut sugar has as many calories and as high of a glycemic index as regular cane sugar, so it isn’t actually healthier at all! PurDate date sugar is produced in a private facility that is free from all of the top 9 food allergies, so you can feel confident it is a safe product across the entire manufacturing chain. I have also found personally that coconut sugar leaves a strong coconut aftertaste in everything you use it for. While this may be acceptable for some recipes, it is not always desirable. Date sugar blends into recipes well and doesn’t create a strong aftertaste in your foods.
Can date sugar be used like regular sugar or does it require modification in recipes? (See our other FAQs)
Date sugar is a great substitute for cane sugar, but it does have its own unique properties just like other substitutes such as food allergy friendly swaps such as flour, milk, and egg substitutes. As a good rule of thumb, you can substitute in PurDate date sugar in 1:1, but we recommend reducing other dry ingredients by up to 25% to accommodate the differences between white cane sugar and date sugar. PurDate has many recipes listed on our website that can help you navigate introducing date sugar into your diet from sweet options to savory dishes you’ll love. Additionally, we are going to have recipes specifically tailored towards individuals with food allergies, autoimmune diseases, and other special diets such as Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) launching in Spring 2022. We recognize that when you are already potentially substituting in ingredients to make a recipe food allergy friendly or vegan, balancing in a sugar substitute on top of this can be difficult. That’s why we are trying to make things as simple as possible with curated recipes for different dietary needs.
My personal experience moving to date sugar to help my food allergies and autoimmune disease issues
As someone who has multiple chronic illnesses and many food allergies, I understand the challenges that you can face when trying to find the diet that works well for you. I have struggled for years with adjusting my diet to try and manage my health, and I have spent many meals disappointed with how my “safe” food tastes. I have found with autoimmune diseases, diet plays a huge role in reducing flare ups and managing your symptoms holistically. Over the years, I have tried many sugar substitutes not necessarily because I was looking to get away from cane sugar, but because allergen friendly products often use them to lower the sugar in their products and I figured this was healthier overall for me anyways. Honestly, many of them are terrible, with Stevia being my personal least favorite one. As I have detailed above, most sugar substitutes are not nutritionally useful to your body and just lead to more inflammation despite the poor taste. I have really enjoyed swapping date sugar into my recipes as it doesn’t have the odd aftertaste many sugar substitutes have, it is nutritionally better for me, and it is so versatile!
If you are looking to get started with date sugar but feel a little lost in all this information, go ahead and get started with this gluten free, vegan banana bread recipe I helped develop! You can see the delicious looking picture above of how it turned out for me. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did!
We look forward to you joining us in our journey to bring the power of date sugar to your kitchen. Between the great taste and high nutritional density, we know you will love using it and find yourself reaching for other sugar options less and less each day. It’s also a fantastic option for those with food allergies since it is produced in a top 9 allergen free facility. So go ahead and let your special diet feel special, indulge yourself with date sugar.
If you’re ready to give date sugar a try, you can purchase it on our website here!
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