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Date Syrup: A Good Substitute for Sugar and Other Sweeteners?

Date Syrup

Date syrup is a natural sweetener that comes in two types: the commercially-produced type which is usually made by extracting the sweet liquid from cooked dates, and the homemade whole food liquid sweetener which is typically made by adding water to date paste. Date syrup is used much in the same way as other liquid sweeteners like agave nectar, coconut nectar, maple syrup and brown rice syrup: in recipes for baked goods and desserts, and as a topping for pancakes and waffles. There are some cookbooks that include tried-and-true recipes featuring date syrup, but you can also create your own recipes. In many cases, it as simple as using date syrup instead of sugar in an existing recipe.

How Much Date Syrup Should You Use?

While date syrup can often be used successfully to replace some or all of the sugar in a specific recipe, especially if the recipe calls for brown sugar, getting the substitution ratio right for any given recipe may take some practice. As general rule, you can substitute date syrup for sugar by using 1 1/3 cups of date syrup for every cup of sugar the recipe calls for, and reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients by 1/4 cup for every cup of date syrup used. If you are using homemade date syrup instead of store-bought date syrup, you may need to use even more syrup for every cup of sugar, depending on the sweetness and texture of your syrup. It is also important to keep in mind that by using date syrup instead of sugar you may also change the texture, color and flavor of the dish.

The main problem with using date syrup as a sugar substitute is that unlike white or brown sugar, date syrup is a liquid sweetener. If a recipe calls for sugar and you want to use a date-based sweetener as a substitute, you may have more success if you use date sugar instead of date syrup. Or, look for recipes that use other liquid sweeteners, such as coconut nectar, agave nectar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup: using date syrup as a substitute for other syrups and nectars makes more sense because of the similar consistency. As a general rule, you can use 1 cup of date syrup for every cup of a similar liquid sweetener, but allow your taste buds to guide you.

Is Date Syrup a Healthy Substitute for Sugar?

Whole dates are rich in fiber, antioxidants and minerals, and they contain some B vitamins as well [1, 2]. Commercially-produced date syrup is made by extracting the thick, sticky juice from cooked dates, which means the health-promoting fiber does not make it into the final product. Also some of the minerals and vitamins are lost in the process. Homemade raw date syrup made by mixing pureed dates with water, by contrast, contains all the fiber, minerals and vitamins of whole dates.

So, the bottom line is: store-bought date syrup is high in calories and low in healthy nutrients if you compare it with whole dates and homemade whole food date syrup. Therefore, if you like the idea of using a date-based product to sweeten baked goods and smoothies, the healthiest option is probably to use whole dates to sub out the sugar in your recipes, or make your own whole food date syrup. Also date sugar is healthier than date syrup because it contains fiber just like whole dates.

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