A spoonful of date syrup?
In a bid to eat to lead a more healthy lifestyle, many people choose to cut out sugar from their diet.
Celebrities such as Caroline Flack have boasted about their body transformations being down to no longer eating sugar.
People are turning to sugar alternatives such as date syrup, agave and honey - but how much healthier are these substitute ingredients?
Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition and author of The Detox Kitchen Bible, has revealed the truth behind date syrup’s “health” benefits.
He said: “Although date syrup is considered a natural alternative it is still essentially a sugar and as such has the same effects on the body as table sugar, so should be eaten sparingly.
“It is lower in calories than table sugar and has less sugar per 100g so if used sparingly it may be considered a better option.
“But I still wouldn’t call it healthy.”
According to Rob, date syrup contains around 33 per cent less sugar than table sugar.
Alongside date syrup, honey and agave, pomegranate molasses is also becoming a popular alternative to sugar.
These all have different flavours and a richness that differs from table sugar - date syrup and pomegranate molasses has also started to be used in more savoury dishes.
But Rob said: “Again, they may be slightly lower in sugary but they are still not really healthy.
“Some people argue that these natural sweeteners contain other nutrients, especially minerals but to gain anything significant you would be eating a lot of sugar.
“There is a little research that suggests date syrup may have antibacterial properties, which may be down to the presence of phenolic compounds, but more research is needed.
“Dates do contain minerals such as magnesium, potassium and iron but to get anything near useful you would be eating a lot of date syrup, which is not going to be great for you and your sugar intake.”
The guidance for sugar intake is to eat no more than seven teaspoons per day, and Rob suggests sticking to similar guidelines with date syrup.
For those who would like to use date syrup as a slightly healthier alternative to sugar, there are a number of ways to incorporate it in everyday meals.
A popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, where it’s used in both savoury and sweet foods, try date syrup in smoothies, add it to roasted vegetables with thyme, on ice-cream, on toast with tahini or as a marinade or salad dressing.