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We all know by now that refined sugar has negative effects on our bodies long-term. So sugar is neither healthy nor nessecery for us. Our bodies are able to produce it ourselves from starch products. Unfortunately, sugar is highly addictive. For the American doctor Sara Gottfried, sugar is therefore comparable to heroin or crack. It has been proven that in rats the consumption of Oreo biscuits activates the same brain areas as the consumption of cocaine … you can read about this in her book “The Hormone Diet “1. There she even advocates cutting out sugar completely. But what do we do when we crave something sweet? We women are at a hormonal disadvantage: I at least have a craving for sweets on a REGULAR basis.

Unfortunately, the same applies to most natural alternatives – purely biochemically – so the same as refined sugar. Apart from honey, they are all of plant origin, but that does not make them any healthier.

“Often praised alternatives, such as agave syrup, which is popular with vegans, are unfortunately not a whit better – agave syrup even consists almost entirely of fructose …”

– Bast Kast, The Nutrition Compass4*


You can find a very good comparison of the different alternatives, including an evaluation, online. So here is just a very brief overview of what is available:

  • Honey: one of the oldest sweeteners in the world.
  • Agave syrup: made from the thickened juice of Mexican agaves.
  • Maple syrup: tapped from the trunks of the sugar maple and thickened
  • Rice syrup: extracted from rice starch
  • Coconut blossom sugar: is extracted from the blossoms of the coconut palm tree
  • Stevia: is extracted from the leaves of this sweet herb, which is native to South America.
  • Xylitol: is also known as “birch sugar”, but is mainly extracted from other vegetable raw materials with a high energy input.
  • Erythritol: is extracted from corn or other vegetable raw materials that provide glucose, which is fermented with the help of fungi.
  • Xucker (partner link) is a brand of Xucker GmbH and consists of a mixture of erythritol and xylitol.
  • Date syrup: is made from boiled down, filtered dates
  • Date sugar: is made from whole, dried dates without stones, which are then ground up
  • Yacon syrup: Yacon is a plant from South America. Its tubers in particular are used to make a sweet syrup or powder. Yacon syrup has a very high fructose content and is therefore not recommended. However, in very small quantities – one to two spoonfuls per day – it can have a positive effect on the intestinal flora. The fructans it contains have a prebiotic effect, i.e. they are food for your microbiome (How not to diet* p. 392). But be careful: too much of a good thing can lead to diarrhoea, flatulence and nausea.


Date sugar is different from all other alternatives because it is made from whole fruit, including the fibre it contains. Fibre is good for a lot of things, including keeping our blood sugar from rising so quickly after eating carbohydrate foods. This is simply because the glucose is released into the blood more slowly due to the presence of indigestible components – the dietary fibres. And that is better than eating sugar in isolation. So if sweet, then better in combination with everything else the fruit has to offer. And dates have a lot of that:

  • Dates are a very good source of dietary fibre. The ratio of total carbohydrates to dietary fibre in dates is 9:1, so for every 9 grams of carbohydrates, there is 1 gram of dietary fibre2. And that is a good value.°
  • Dates also contain a whole range of different B vitamins2
    and they contain potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and chloride as minerals
  • and in trace elements they have relatively high levels of iron and copper.2



If you have a stand mixer, you can now make your own date sweetener. We use a Vitamix – type A2500i Ascent. The following recipe is inspired by the book “The Midlife Kitchen”  by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice. If you have all the ingredients ready, it will take you just 5 minutes and you will have a whole jar filled with sweetness that will last for about two weeks.

  • put aside a clean glass jar with a screw cap – preferably rinsed beforehand with boiling water.
  • Have a spatula ready
  • get out the kitchen scales
  • Put 200g pitted dates* in a stand mixer – you can use any kind; they don’t necessarily have to be the more expensive Medjool dates, but they should always come from certified organic cultivation. Conventionally grown dates are fertilised with bromomethane – a substance that destroys the ozone layer.
  • Squeeze ½ lemon and add the juice.
  • Add 300ml of still water.
  • Start the blender on low speed and then increase the speed – it will be quite loud. When everything has become a homogeneous light brown mass, switch off the blender.
  • The whole mixture should have the consistency of applesauce. If necessary, add a little more water.
  • Now pour the date sweetener into the jar and try it directly in yoghurt or porridge.
  • Close the jar and put it in the fridge


*) Affiliate links from Amazon: As an Amazon Affiliate, NOBODYTOLME by sisu health GmbH earns with qualified purchases.

°) This approach comes from research3 to assess whether a whole grain product is actually a whole food and has also earned the name whole grain. If there is at least 1 gram of dietary fibre per 10 grams of carbohydrates, then one can assume that a whole grain product is good for health. If the ratio is less than 5:1, it is even better. You can read more about this in Bas Kast’s Nutrition Compass4 (partner link). I have now freely applied the ratio rule for whole grains to dates. And after that it looks good.

1) Sara Gottfried, The Hormone Diet, 2016
2) https://www.naehrwertrechner.de/naehrwerte/F504000/Dattel, these data apply to whole dates – i.e. whole fruits without stones.
3) Patrick J. Skerrett, The trick to recognising a good whole grain: Use carb-to-fiber ratio of 10-to-1, 14.01.2013, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-trick-to-recognizing-a-good-whole-grain-use-carb-to-fiber-ratio-of-10-to-1-201301145794
4) Bas Kast, The Nutrition Compass (affiliate link), 2018, p. 160

Ahornsirup, Honig, Agavendicksaft & Co.: die Wahrheit über Zuckerersatz

Datteln: gesunder Snack mit mieser Ökobilanz



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