4 Alternatives to sugar
Sugar is in everything and has been in the media for being unhealthy and causing serious health problems like diabetes and obesity. As we are now getting to know the effects that sugar is having on our body, we can now do something about it and try and reduce our intake of this sweetener. If you’re looking to reduce the amount of sugar you eat but you still like the sweet taste then your in luck, as in this article we are going to be sharing the healthy alternatives to sugar and what you can be using to replace this, but still have the same sweet taste. Maybe next time your making food you can swap out the sugar for one of these alternatives to make the meal or snack that little bit more healthier.
What is sugar
We are pretty sure you know what sugar is and what it does. Just to clarify sugar is used to make things sweeter and generally taste better. Another term used for sugar is sucrose which is produced by plants. We then extract the sucrose from plants to use in our food, similar to other foods. Sucrose can be broken down into two other molecules and these are fructose and glucose. This is the molecule responsible for giving fruit there sweet taste as they are quite high in sucrose. Sugar is a carbohydrate that provides your body with quick release energy, as its processed and broken down quite quickly by your body.
As we have all been told high amounts of sugar can be potentially harmful to your body. Eating too much can cause your blood glucose levels to rise, this can feel good and you may be more energetic but can cause conditions like diabetes. You also put yourself at risk of high blood pressure which can increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke. As there is sugar in pretty much everything we eat, we are going to be sharing a few alternatives you can use to ensure your staying healthy and are at a lower risk of these conditions.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that should be available in your local supermarket. Stevia can also be grown at home if your looking for a more natural flavour as the stuff bought in the store has been processed and may not be the “all natural” they claim it to be. Using this sweetener has many benefits when compared to sugar and the main one is that it contains no calories. As this is the case there is no risk of gaining weight due to using it, making it instantly healthier that refined sugar. There have also been studies that have taken place that shows stevia can lower insulin and blood glucose levels which can make it an ideal sweetener for those who have diabetes.
Stevia is also a lot sweeter than sugar and is said to be around 100 to 300 times sweeter. As this is the case you will find yourself using less of it compared to the amount of sugar you would usually use. Like everything there are a few minor downsides to using stevia. One of these is that it can be expensive when compared to sugar. It can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, indigestion and cramping. These are possible side effects but are still better than the effects of eating too much sugar.
Another alternative to sugar is xylitol which is a sugar alcohol. This is found in many fruits and vegetables and is common in sugar free beverages and sweets. The first benefit of choosing this over sugar is that it has 40% fewer calories. It also does not raise blood sugar levels too much which makes it a good alternative for people with diabetes or watching their weight. Xylitol can also be used to boost dental health as it can prevent tooth decay as the bacteria in your mouth feed off sugar but can’t use xylitol as a form of energy. Getting rid of these bacteria can also put you at a lower risk of ear infections as your mouth, nose and ears are all connected.
Consuming xylitol can also help with constipation and relieve stomach pain. It can also help your bone density which makes you stronger and puts you at a lower risk of getting injured. Eating xylitol is usually ok for humans but there can be a few side effects. One can include diarrhoea as the alcohol is fermenting in your gut. Although xylitol opposes little risk to humans it can be harmful to animals like dogs, so you want to keep it far away from any of your furry friends.
Another sugar alcohol is erythritol and is a round 0.24 calories per gram. This is a benefit as this is lower than sugar and tastes a lot like it, making it easier not to use sugar. Another benefit of this sweetener is that it doesn’t raise blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels which makes it good for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. It can also be used in the same way as normal sugar as you are able to put it in your tea and coffee and is definitely a sweetener that you could think of using on a regular basis to replace sugar.
Erythritol can also have an antioxidant effect on the body, which can protect blood vessels and ensure cardiovascular health. This sugar alternative has also not been seen to have any negative effects and is pretty safe to use. A few possible side effects are the ones that are expected with all sugar alcohols and these are gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea.
Natural sweeteners and sugars
Natural sweeteners and sugars are those that come from natural sources like fruit and vegetables. They offer many health benefits one being that they offer more nutrients than refined sugars do. These sweeteners and sugars are also available in many different forms and are widely available. A few different examples of natural sugars and sweeteners are molasses or date paste, which is made from the fruit dates. Also, artificial, and processed foods are not bad for your health and can contain many free radicals that can be bad for your health. By eating mainly natural sugars you are cutting out the intake of these which reduces their effect on your body.
There are also many food products that now use natural sugars, making it popular with many as its always being advertised as healthy. Although it is better than refined sugar, natural sugar also has a few negatives. As many of these are still like normal sugar but not processed it still has the same effects as normal sugar if consumed in large amounts. These include things like diabetes and tooth decay.
Honey may be classed as a natural sweetener or sugar but for this article we are keeping it separate. This is very popular and is used by many to sweeten up your meal or snack. One benefit of eating honey is that it contains a lot of antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and benefit your health. Honey can also raise the levels of “good cholesterol” in your body and can also lead to weight loss as it contains a few less calories to sugar. Other minerals and nutrients are also present in honey that are not in sugar.
Although honey may seem perfect and a good health alternative, it is not all what it’s cracked up to be. Although its healthier than sugar, honey still has many of the potential risks of consuming too much sugar as honey is very similar to sugar. Also, some low-quality brands of honey may mix their product with syrup to make it sweeter and taste better. This means the artificial sweetener and sugar level is likely to be raised, making it less healthy.
There are many different alternatives to sugar you can be taking that can benefit your health. Making sure you are not eating too much refined sugar is important as it can many negative effects to your health and can lower your quality of life. For many people sugar is only consumed as its sweet and nice but these few alternatives we have mentioned in this article are worth a try and are definitely a healthier alternative to refined sugar. Although its bad you can still consume sugar but not in huge amounts as this is when it begins to be harmful.