Unlike before, there has been an increasing level of awareness about the harmful effects of consuming too much added sugar. From severe health conditions, to obesity and heart disease, it is something that you would like to keep in check. Because of this, many people now watch what they eat and constantly look for healthy alternatives to sugar as they try to cut back on their intake.
But the truth is, we have sugar all around us, and it can be difficult to avoid at times. From your favorite sodas, to processed foods and desserts, you have sugar staring at you everywhere you go. More importantly, natural sugar provides your body with the much needed energy to carry out your daily activities. So despite all that you must have read about the dangers of sugar, it offers some benefits too, but only when taken moderately.
Moreover, if you are looking to have some healthy alternatives to sugar and enjoy the sugary taste without exposing you to its adverse effects, we have a bunch of them for you.
Bu before we proceed, why exactly do you need to substitute sugar and see better alternatives?
According to the WHO, sugar consumption should not exceed ten percent of your total caloric intake. Specifically, it provides us with empty calories, thus increasing your body fat to bring about weight gain. Additional, too much sugar intake also increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
As aforementioned, there are some sweeteners that would serve as healthy alternatives to sugar so that you don’t actually have to do away with sweetened flavors.
Healthy Alternatives to Sugar That Will Not Harm Your Health
Restricting sugar consumption and eliminating it from our diet completely will be the perfect solution to prevent all its problems, but it is not so easy. Virtually everyone loves the sweet taste of sugar because it gives us a feeling of pleasure, caused by its stimulation of the production of dopamine.
Taking all of the above into account, the first thing to do is re-educate your palate to get used to the natural sweet flavors. The idea is to reduce the amount of sugar that you need to sweeten tea, yogurt, or desserts since the appetite is educated in the same way that a hypertensive person can adapt to eating without salt.
Honey: The Best Healthy Alternative to Sugar
Honey, in general, is the best healthy alternative to white sugar. It consists primarily of fructose and natural fruit sugar and is also rich in minerals and vitamin B elements.
Still, it is very much important to remember that it is still simple sugar. Therefore, it is advisable to limit its consumption and, in any case, allocate it to times of the day when the body requires more energy.
On the other hand, not all honey is the same. The most natural or ecological honey is straight from the comb without any processing. In contrast, other more commercial honey may have different types of added simple sugars or artificial flavors.
Agave nectar is a popular refined sugar substitute that comes from a wide variety of the agave plant. Thanks to its low glycemic index, agave comes off as a suitable option for anyone looking to avoid the severe effect of white sugar. However, you need to stay within a fair limit. This is because agave nectar constitutes about 56 percent of fructose, which makes it about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar.
Additionally, you can extract different products from this aloe vera-like plant. Today, it is a worthy alternative to fructose-rich corn syrup and is very popular among vegans.
Coconut sugar comes off as one of the most sustainable sweeteners in the world. While this is largely because of its little dependence on water, it also comes with some healthy fats that can help combat high cholesterol and heart disease.
More so, coconut sugar has a low glycemic index. And it contains some important minerals, such as zinc, calcium, or potassium. All these work together to make it a better alternative to refined sugar.
You should, however, note that you still need to regulate your coconut sugar intake while eating or cooking.
Maple syrup is one of the most popular replacements for refined sugar we have around today. It is a sweetener produced majorly with the sap of the red maple tree (Acer saccharum) and black maple tree (Acer nigrum). Maple syrup is delicious and comes with important vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin B, and a host of other vital polyphenols and other antioxidants substances. These nutritious elements come in handy while baking foods like waffles and pancakes.
Like honey, maple syrup is also a product of nature and has a significantly lower glycemic index than other sweeteners.
Panela is another pure, unrefined natural sugar option for people looking to cut back on their white sugar intake. It has a hygienic and chemical-free process. According to researchers, panela has more flavor than brown sugar and comes as a great choice for those looking to lose weight.
Usually, it is made from evaporated sugar cane juice and has its root in Central and Latin American countries. During evaporation, the sugar can juice loses moisture and forms a molasses, which will eventually solidify as soon as it becomes cool. Its glycemic index is lower than that of sugar. This is because it provides fructose, glucose, sucrose, polyphenols, and other important minerals, such as calcium and phosphorous. Interestingly, panela contains between six and seven times more compounds with antioxidant capacity than brown sugar.
This healthy alternative to sugar has a dark color and a sweet flavor. It is extracted from cooking sugar cane juice or beet, where it will undergo a process that concentrates sugars. Molasses provides vitamins and minerals and is high in antioxidants. Molasses juice is quite similar to that of American syrups. It can replace sugar when making caramel flan, jelly beans, pudding, sweet creams, fruit tarts, baked fruit, or candy.
Swapping out refined sugar for these natural sugars can be very helpful to your health and general well-being. However, moderation is key. Despite having fewer tendencies to cause severe health issues when ingested, it is better to stay within a moderate limit when eating any type of sugar.