Refined sugar has been tagged as potentially detrimental to your health, but there are tons of rich and natural sugar substitutes you could indulge in.
Sugar is incredibly unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. It is addictive and high sugar intake is also associated with some of the world’s most deadly diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Added sugars, according to some health practitioners, contain a whole bunch of calories with no essential nutrients. Hence they are called “empty” calories because they neither have proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals.
People have become more aware of the dangers of too much intake of refined sugar and therefore opting for healthier substitutes. Though many sugar alternatives still have sugar, the good news is that they are much easier for your body to digest and process, and they bring the most health benefits to your body.
For a sweet tooth, rather than going sugar-less or with artificial sweeteners which are often just as bad for your health, here are some healthier alternatives to try out both for cooking and baking.
Raw honey which is that unfiltered and unpasteurized sweetener produced by bees contains lots of beneficial nutrients like vitamin B and iron. A recent research has it that a complete switch to your intake of pure raw honey instead will have enormous health benefits.
Its antibacterial compounds also act as an immune-system booster that helps fight infection in the body. It also has a molecular structure that resembles glucose, making it easy for the body to digest. Unlike processed honey, the raw honey can help with everything from solving sleep problems to seasonal allergies. Continuous use of raw honey may even help weight-loss efforts compared to diets containing sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
The darker variety of honey has more nutrients and organic, local honey is recommended as the ideal natural sweetener.
Date sugar is dried dates ground into a powdery form. It is very sweet and has no additives.
It is high in minerals like potassium as well as fibre and other vitamins. It contains more antioxidants than many popular sweeteners.
The potassium in dates is great for flushing out toxins and balancing electrolytes in the body. They are also known to decrease cholesterol, relieve constipation and boost energy, among other health benefits.
However, date sugar which has a clumpy texture cannot be used as a direct substitute for sugar since it does not melt. With its low glycemic index and some subtle sweetness, it is especially very good for baking.
Organic coconut sugar is unrefined. It is the extracted sap of the coconut palm, boiled and dehydrated.
Coconut sugar is low on the glycemic index, and also low in fructose. It contains traces of iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, as well as antioxidants. It also contains a fibre called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption.
This natural sugar comes in a block, paste, or granulated form and its neutral flavour akin to the sugar cane is great for baking as it does not affect the consistency of the final product.
Though it may not be sweet enough for tea or coffee like other sugar substitutes, it can be used in a fruit smoothie.
Molasses is a sweet dark syrup made from boiling down sugar cane or sugar beet juice which makes a fine replacement for refined sugar.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as several antioxidants. Its high potassium and calcium content is essential for your bone and heart health.
This by-product of sugarcane processing offers about 15 percent of the daily iron requirement for premenopausal women, as well as vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper, zinc and more antioxidants than any other natural sweetener. It is often recommended as a great vegan source of iron.
Organic maple syrup is one of the best sugar substitutes you should turn to. The thick, sugary liquid produced by cooking down the sap of maple trees contains at least 24 different types of antioxidants.
It contains 70 percent sucrose, with a low fructose level, as well as other minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese and other beneficial nutrients. It has a slightly lower glycemic index than regular sugar, so it may not raise blood sugar levels as quickly.
Maple sugar is even believed to have anti-cancer benefits as its antioxidant compounds can help fight cancer, improve your skin, and even fight bloating, among other benefits.
It’s especially good for foods like pancakes and waffles. Just like other sugar substitutes, maple syrup is a slightly better option than regular sugar, but it should still be consumed in moderation.
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