Date puree contains sugar, so is there a real advantage of using it as a substitute for white sugar in a recipe?
Definitely! And here’s why.
Sugar is sugar. That’s very true! In fact, what we call white sugar is also known as sucrose in the scientific community. The term refers to a chemical molecule made up of one glucose unit and one fructose unit. When these two units of sugar link together, they form what is commonly referred to as sugar. Sugar is found naturally in fruit and certain vegetables. The industry also extracts it from certain plants, such as sugar cane and sugar beets, in order to process it into refined sugar.
It is therefore true to say that, regardless of its source, the sugar molecule remains the same. However, there is a genuine advantage to consuming the types of sugar that are still in their primary structure and haven’t been refined by industry. When sugar is contained in a whole fruit, it is also accompanied by dietary fibre. This fibre slows down the absorption of sugar in the digestive system and mitigates its impact on our blood sugar level, that is to say the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Fibre also has a satiating effect which allows us to limit our food intake to only what we really need, and thus stops us from eating an astronomical amount of sugar.
The real problem therefore lies instead in the excessive consumption of free sugars in our diet. When sugar is extracted from its original food matrix and then refined, it suddenly becomes much easier to consume it in large amounts. Therefore, using sweeteners that are not from refined sugar sources, but rather from minimally processed staple foods that contain sugar will truly enhance the nutritional quality of a recipe.
As a comparison, if you use 1 cup of white sugar in a recipe, you’re adding 211g of sucrose (sugar), 0g of dietary fibre and 818 calories. However, should you decide to instead replace that cup of white sugar with a cup of date puree, you’ll be adding 106g of sucrose (sugar), 14g of dietary fibre and 480 calories to your recipe.