Sugar addiction is the real deal!
we’re all human and cutting all sweeteners tomorrow isn’t realistic
Quitting this sweet drug of choice isn’t so simple, but knowing which types of sweeteners to choose can make all the difference in how you look, think, and feel.
How sugar affects your health
Sugar sweetens, preserves, and enhances the flavour of food. This makes it hard to avoid and resist, but the health benefits of reducing your sugar intake are clear. A diet high in sugar has been associated with a wide range of health conditions, either directly through its effect on the body or indirectly due to complications from obesity.
More obvious symptoms might be headaches, fatigue, and uncontrollable food cravings that impact us in different ways, most notably the quality of day-to-day life.
Several other chronic conditions that can be triggered by high sugar intake are as follows:
• Tooth decay and cavities
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Weight gain and obesity
• Poor nutrition
• High triglyceride levels
• Low Immunity
• Chromium Deficiency
• Faster Aging
• Stress Increase
How to choose the right sugar replacement for you?
It may be difficult to sort through all the sugar alternatives on the market to decide which one is right for you.
Are sugar alternatives a healthier option?
Whether or not sugar substitutes are a healthier choice for you depends on which type of sweetener you use, how much you use, and why you use it.
Low-calorie sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, can allow people with diabetes to enjoy sweet foods and drinks that do not affect their blood sugar levels.
Top sugar substitutes and sweeteners
Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons to limit sugar intake and why you should consider healthier and more natural sugar substitutes for health, you’re probably wondering what are the best options for satisfying your sweet tooth.
We love all things coconut, coconut sugar included!
Coconut sugar comes from the nectar within the coconut blossoms which then goes through a natural processing technique to evaporate the water from the sap, allowing the nectar to crystalize.
The fructose content of coconut sugar is around 39% which is an unfortunate downside considering the other nutrients like zinc and iron plus the bonus of some antioxidants and a small amount of inulin fiber which works as a prebiotic to promote gut health.
Also, read 9 Warning Signs You Have Poor Gut Health
- Coconut sugar is unrefined, so it retains all its vitamins and minerals, and doesn’t lead to fluctuations in blood sugar.
- However, coconut sugar has the same amount of calories as table sugar, and it’s still high in carbohydrates and fructose. This means people looking to lose weight should limit it.
- Also, it may not the best option for those who have diabetes.
How to use it:
Coconut sugar can be used as a 1-to-1 replacement for white or brown sugar, so it’s easy to use in the kitchen. However, it can be very coarse. You may want to grind it in a blender or food processor for a few moments before using it for baking or in place of powdered sugar.
Brand Pick: Sattvic Foods
Probably the oldest replacement for sugar all around the world, honey (please read “raw honey”, not the commercial type) is made without any processing.
Yes, it is almost half fructose, but its benefits as a cleansing substance, even having antibiotic properties, with antioxidants and B vitamins, both in internal and external usage make it one of the best choices for a healthy alternative to sugar.
Also, read the surprising benefits of honey
- Honey contains more nutrients than table sugar, including antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
- Used as an additive to teas as a cold remedy, which is a great choice to add a little sweetness to your drink, but don’t overdo it.
- It’s also easier to digest than regular sugar. However, like table sugar, honey is high in calories and breaks down to glucose and fructose, so it poses some of the same health risks.
How to use it:
Honey can be particularly tasty in smoothies, baked goods, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.
Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you may have to reduce the amount you add.
Since there’s water in honey, you’ll also want to reduce the liquid you use when substituting honey in baked goods.
Brand Pick: Pahadi Kissan
Date paste is also an easy sugar alternative you can make at home in a blender using 3/4 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and about 1 cup of warm, pitted dates.
- Dates have a lower Glycaemic Index than normal sugar. Studies have shown that eating dates does not result in blood sugar spikes like eating sugar does. They’re therefore better for managing blood sugar levels and are beneficial sugar replacers for both non-diabetics and type 2 diabetics alike.
- Dates are also packed with fibre. We need fibre to keep our bowels regular and healthy and eating a couple of dates a day helps keep our fibre intake topped up. We Brits are notoriously bad at eating enough fibre so dates can be a tasty, fibrous addition to our diet.
- There’s also plenty of vitamins and minerals in dates. Date paste, since it’s just minced up dates, still contains all the same nutrients and has all the same benefits.
How to use it:
Dates can be particularly tasty in smoothies, baked goods, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.
Date paste can be sweeter than sugar, so you’ll have to reduce both the amount you add and the amount of liquid when baking.
Type Pick: Medjool Dates, Omani Dates
Think beyond pancakes and waffles. Maple syrup can be used in many different ways to add flavour to sweet and savoury dishes. It’s one of the most natural, unrefined sources of sugar out there. It also has a lot of antioxidants, including inflammation-fighting polyphenols.
- Maple syrup is high in antioxidants and rich in minerals, including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese.
- However, like other natural sweeteners, maple syrup is high in calories and should be consumed in moderation.
How to use it:
Use it in healthier breakfast options such as oatmeal or plain yoghurt, or savoury dishes such as vegetables, chicken, salmon, or salad dressings.
You can also use maple syrup when baking — just be sure to reduce the number of liquids in the recipe.
Brand Pick: Urban Platter
This sweetener is made from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant, which grows only in warm climates. Without any carbohydrates or calories, stevia doesn’t raise blood sugar, making it a great natural sugar substitute.
- Stevia is a plant extract with little-to-no calories. It’s also much sweeter than sugar, so you need less of it to provide the same amount of sweetness.
- Since stevia extract is very low in calories, it’s considered a healthy sugar alternative for those who have diabetes or need to control their weight.
How to use it:
It comes in various forms, including powder and liquid, so you may need to experiment to find out which ones work best in different recipes. Stevia extract is also relatively stable in heat, so it can be used in cakes, sauces, and pastries.
Brand Pick: Ritestevia
Top 3 Sugar Substitutes To Avoid
1. Agave Syrup
Although agave is natural sugar, don’t be fooled by the marketing hype.
Agave gained notoriety for its low glycemic index, it ultimately was shown to have a higher fructose content than high-fructose corn syrup (about 70% to 90%). It has been marketed as a healthier alternative, but it’s no better than the worst offenders.
It is highly sweet, replacing sugar with success, with lower amounts of the substance required.
However, it has 75-90% fructose, even more than high fructose corn syrup, which doesn’t metabolize, raising the blood sugar levels rapidly, which means that the skinny margarita that you ordered is a lot more harmful than you thought.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial and low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and neotame are considered the worst of the worst in the realm of alternative sweeteners.
Synthetic sweeteners like Sucralose (Splenda, Maltodextrin), Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet), Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), and Acesulfame K (Ace K, Sunette, Sweet One) should be avoided altogether.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows this stuff just isn’t that good for you.
Many people report headaches, stomach aches and a general ill feeling after eating artificial sweeteners. And some studies have shown that chemical sweeteners can change the bacterial makeup of your microbiome, throwing your entire gut health out of whack.
The major problem with all the sweeteners in this category is that they require additional chemicals like chlorine to create their low-calorie nature, which poses serious long term health risks.
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup, which is made through a chemical process that’s anything but natural, is one of the worst offenders for insulin spikes, as it doesn’t have to be digested by your body. This stuff simply filters right into your bloodstream and goes wild.
what makes it so harmful?
With corn being one of the most common genetically modified crops, the majority of HFCS is produced using GMO corn, but that’s not the only issue. The problem is that just as the name suggests, this sugar alternative is extremely high in fructose.
The problem with fructose is highly concentrated forms is that it gets rapidly metabolized by the liver, which has downstream effects that contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease ( NAFLD), insulin resistance, and obesity.
Tips for reducing sugar in your diet
Follow these steps to help reduce sugar in your diet daily:
• Choose to drink water, calorie-free beverages, or low-fat milk instead of sugary sodas and drinks.
• Choose whole fruits instead of processed desserts and fruit juices. When you do drink fruit juice, make sure it’s 100% fruit
• Add fruit to cereal instead of buying sweetened cereal or adding table sugar
• Use sugar-free preserves or fresh fruit to sweeten plain yoghurt instead of eating sweetened yoghurt with fruit in it
• Choose lower-calorie, sugar-free hot chocolate drinks instead of candy
• Snack on vegetables, fruit, low-fat cheese, or whole-wheat crackers
• Choose unsweetened products, such as unsweetened applesauce or nut kinds of butter
• Add flavours like vanilla, spices, or citrus to flavour foods and drinks.
When you do need a little sweetness, consult this list, choose the healthiest sugar substitute, and use the least amount possible.