A diet that is laden with sugar can ruin your health and make you vulnerable to diseases. Why? Simply because it contains calories that do not contain any nutrients or fiber. It spikes your blood sugar levels and causes health problems.
Beverages containing a good amount of sugar can raise your blood pressure and even allow your liver to deposit fats in your bloodstream. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, added sugar can increase the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
So, what can we do to prevent such diseases and health issues? The answer is pretty simple: stop consuming a diet that has added sugar in it. Instead look for substitutes that are safe and healthy. Fortunately, there are some natural sugar substitutes that can help you protect your life while satisfying the sweet tooth. Here is a list of sugar substitutes that can make your life healthy and happy.
Raw honey is easily available and is a great substitute for sugar. Besides sweetening your food and beverages, it has many health benefits.Honey is packed with powerful antioxidants that are helpful in neutralizing free radicals and promote your overall health. Unlike sugar which provides empty calories, honey contains amino acids that support your overall health.
Raw honey has antimicrobial properties which can provide protection from infections too. It boosts immunity and protects your body from many other diseases. It also contains other nutrients like iron, B vitamins etc. that can promote your health. However, since it is a high-calorie food, it should be consumed in moderation. Remember one tablespoon of raw honey can have almost 60 calories in it.
Agave is another sweet syrup that you may use to sweeten your food and beverages. It is obtained from the plant used to make Tequila. If you are looking for a sweetener with a low glycemic index, this one is for you.It is many times sweeter than sugar and must be used in small quantities.
One of the biggest disadvantages of consuming agave is adding too many calories. So you may only need to use it if you are not concerned about weight gain. Besides having higher calories than normal sugar, it is also high in fructose quantity. The only benefit of using it as a substitute is it does not spike up the level of blood sugar as compared to other natural sweeteners. So, use it wisely.
3. Maple syrup
This sweet syrup is obtained by boiling the sap of maple trees. Similar to honey, maple syrup is high in nutrients that benefit the body while sweetening your food. It contains zinc that strengthens the immune system and helps in increasing the body's ability to fight common diseases. It is crammed with manganese which boosts your energy levelsand helps you stay active and happy.
In addition to it, maple syrup provides antioxidants to the body that helps it to stay healthy by checking the presence of free radicals. It is lesser in calories than honey. One tablespoon of maple syrup has 51 calories and can be used to flavor a variety of dishes and beverages.
This sugar alcohol is derived from various fruits, plants, mushrooms and fungi in which it is present naturally in small amounts. It is probably one of the best sugar substitutes available for people who are diabetic or want to reduce calories.Erythritol is known to have zero calories (because it has almost 95 percent fewer calories than present in sugar), yet tastes just like sugar. This makes it a pleasant tasting substitute for anyone who wants to avoid sugar for good a good reason.
Per NBCI publication, Erythritol is absorbed by the body in very low quantities and the most part of it is excreted through urine. Besides, it does not cause any tooth decay as the oral bacteria is not able to metabolize it.
5. Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar has a relatively low glycemic indexand is obtained from the buds of the tree of the coconut palm. If you are looking for a substitute that is equal in sweetness to sugar, you can use coconut sugar. It is best used for baking where you have to substitute an equal measure of sugar to make the recipe perfect. The liquid sweeteners are difficult to use for baking purposes.
The only disadvantage of coconut sugar is it has an equal number of calories as present in sugar. Unlike other sweeteners that are low in calories or a no calorie substitute like stevia, you cannot use this one if you want to lose weight.
Xylitol is another sugar alcohol that can be used as an excellent sugar substitute. It is either produced naturally from the birch tree or is manufactured in industries by processing the plant fiber xylan. Its absorption by the body is much slower than with table sugar and hence it has no or very minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
Even though it is not a zero calories sugar substitute, it provides relatively lesser calories than the table sugar. Therefore, it helps in weight management to a great extent. Since this sugar alcohol is not completely broken down during digestion it may have a laxative effect that is common with most sugar alcohol.
As compared to sugar, dates are a healthier alternative. It is packed with fiber which effectively slows down the absorption of sugar by the body, thereby regulating it. Even though it contains sugar, the presence of fiber and minerals like potassium makes its absorption slow.
Besides sweetening your food, dates also provide a boost of essential vitamins and minerals that are helpful in promoting your overall health. Dates are also high in antioxidants which checks the presence of free radicals in the body.
Stevia is probably the best sweetener that can be a substitute for sugar. It is great in taste and has no calories. It is a white powder obtained from the leaves of the stevia plant. Being 100% natural, it is safe to use and helps in making your food more delicious. So, if you have any health issue such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you can consume stevia without any worry.
A study that ResearchGate posted, reveals how stevia can help in controlling diabetes and help you attain a better health. If you are aiming to lose weight and want to cut down on the carbohydrates present in sugar, stevia is a great option. The best part of using stevia is you can use it for almost any recipe.
However, it is always best to use sweeteners wisely and so is with stevia too. It is sweeter than sugar and must be added in lesser quantities to sweeten your foods and beverages.
Sugar can be highly damaging for your health ruining it slowly. The above-mentioned sugar substitutes not only satisfy the desire to have sweet but also promote your health in one way or the other. Some are packed with nutrients while some are better in taste. You can choose one depending on your preference and your health. If you are diabetic or gaining too much weight, it is best to consult a doctor to know which of these will be most suitable for you. Natural substitutes for sugar are surely a safe and sweet way to stay healthy.