7 Natural Sugar Substitutes and Artificial Sweeteners
We all know how too much sugar is bad for our health. Nowadays many of us rely on packed, processed food which is full of refined sugar that in turn leads to problems like weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, acne, tooth decay and accelerates skin ageing.
Now, some of us might be thinking to trade table sugar or refined sugar with artificial sweeteners, sugar-free (diet soda, sugar-free cookies, and other zero calorie sweeteners) which may be less in calories but are 200-500 times sweeter than the table sugar does no good to our bodies.
So, ultimately added sugar, processed sugar, refined sugar, and artificial sweeteners are bad for our health and should be kept to a minimum whenever, wherever possible.
Now the question is: Should we cut all types of sugar from our diet?
Well, it’s almost impossible to cut sugar from our diet entirely because almost every packed food contains some amount of sugar and we might be consuming them sometimes without even knowing it!
Moreover, according to various studies by different health organisations, “consuming a limited amount (approximately less than 50 grams) of sugar is a part of a healthy diet.”
According to Doctor Drew Ramsay, sugar is vital for brain health. However, it’s all about how do we get it?
There are natural sugar options which boost our brain health and contain more nutrients than refined, artificial and processed sugar. It occurs naturally in fruits as fructose and products like milk and cheese as lactose. It comes with some nutrients, vitamins, and minerals which may be beneficial for our health.
Let’s discuss 7 natural sugar substitutes which may or may not be less in calories but have more nutrients and health benefits than refined or artificial sugar.
Stevia is one of the popular natural sweeteners available in the market. It is extracted from the leaves of plant stevia rebaudiana and has zero calories.
Consuming stevia over refined sugar is way healthier and controls diabetes, aids weight loss regulates blood pressure, prevents cavities. We can use it in liquid form, powdered form or directly use its raw leaves.
Stevia also has widespread use in tea, coffee, ice cream, cakes, bread, and desserts.
Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of coconut palm tree. It contains nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants.
It has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar which makes make glucose absorb slowly in our body. Its taste is similar to caramel and has the same sweetness and calories as refined sugar.
Coconut sugar is used in various cakes and pastries without affecting the consistency of the final product.
Raw honey is one of the best natural sweeteners available in the market. Honey bees produce it from flower extracts. It is full of antioxidants, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6 and is popularly used in drinks, teas, salad dressings, over toasts, etc.
According to various studies consuming honey over refined sugar have slightly less harmful effects on blood sugar levels and also reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
Maple syrup is a brownish sugary liquid which is made by cooking the sap of maple tree. It contains many antioxidants and is full of nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium. It has popular usage in smoothies, shakes, pancakes, teas.
Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar which makes it a bit friendlier towards blood sugar.
Certain fruits like bananas, raisins, and figs are natural sweeteners which contain fibre, potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin B6 and C. These can be used in preparing banana bread, pancakes, shakes, and smoothies to sweeten things up.
Molasses is higher in antioxidants than both maple syrup and honey. It is thick brownish syrup made from boiling sugar cane and is high in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6 which may benefit heart health and bone health.
Molasses is used in various marinades and baking.
Date sugar comes from the date palm and completely organic sugar. It is simply granulated from the dates. It contains all the nutrients of dates which make it rich in vitamins, minerals, potassium, copper, iron, vitamin B6 and antioxidants.
According to various studies dates or date, sugar may help in lower bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke. Dates or date sugar is used in smoothies, shakes and ideal for baking too.
Natural sugars are more or less equitant to refined sugar in terms of calories.
It’s mandatory to consume them in moderation because it may contain few more nutrients than refined sugar, but our body still processes them the same way.
Overeating sugar in any form leads to poor nutrition, tooth decay, increasing health risks like blood sugar and blood pressure.
Also, eliminating sugar from your diet isn’t a good idea in the long run instead, switch to these natural alternatives but remember moderation is the key.
Remember it’s important to be mindful when consuming sugar.
People with chronic ailments like high blood pressure and high blood sugar should consult with their physician or a certified nutritionist.