Sugar is an indispensable part of the food we consume. Energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended, due to urbanization, sedentary life style and excessive consumption of sugary foods along with increased fat consumption leads to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and other health concerns.
But the taste of sweet is something we all want; some need it more often than the others. One need not worry! This craving can always be satisfied with sugar alternatives!
Sugar substitutes are used instead of sugar for a number of reasons including. The benefits of these include reduced risk of obesity, dental caries, hyperglycemia particularly an issue for diabetics and prediabetics, hyperinsulinemia and cardiovascular disease.
Artificial sweeteners help in the following conditions:
- Obesity: White cane sugar is said to provide “empty calories”. People with high body mass index (BMI) can cut down their sugar intake by replacing natural sugar with sugar substitutes. Use of artificial sweeteners can assist in weight loss by limiting calorie intake. Excessive consumption of sugary food with increased fat consumption leads to obesity.
- Dental care: Carbohydrates and sugar adhere to both tooth enamel, where bacteria feed upon them and quickly multiply. Bacteria convert the sugar to acids that decay the teeth. However artificial sweeteners help to maintain dental health as bacteria in your mouth cannot break down the artificial sweeteners to produce acids that cause tooth demineralization.
- Diabetes Mellitus: People with diabetes find it difficult to control blood sugar levels and most often need to limit their sugar intake. Many artificial sweeteners allow sweet tasting food without increasing blood glucose.
- Reactive hypoglycemia: Individuals with reactive hypoglycemia will produce an excess of insulin after quickly absorbing glucose into the bloodstream.
So here are a few alternatives to sugar that can help you control diabetes at home, cut down some kilos and prevent you from visiting your dentist too often! 🙂
Best options for herbal alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners are:
- Barley malt syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Cane sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Date sugar
- Maple syrup
- Monk fruit
- Gymnema sylvestre
- Fruit juice concentrates
If you are going to use a sweetener, raw honey is a good option. Honey is made by honey bees from nectar of flowers. Unheated and unfiltered raw honey is cloudy, very thick and contains antioxidants.
USES: Honey can be used in dressing marinades and slaws or stirred into a cup of tea and other beverages.
Stevia is derived from a perennial shrub with leaves 30 times sweeter than sugar. It has NO CALORIES and is useful for people with diabetes or anyone trying to give up sugar. It does not spike your blood sugar levels.
Organic stevia is available in either powder or liquid form.
USES: Stevia is used for sweetening tea, smoothies, in some sodas, sports drinks and bakery items.
Agave is a liquid sweetener produced from the sap of agave cactus plants. The sap is treated with enzymes and heated to become palatable syrup higher in fructose than any other sweetener.
USES: Agave can be used for sweetening smoothies and drinks.
BARLEY MALT SYRUP
Barley malt syrup comes from sprouted barley that’s roasted and cooked down to syrup. Its malt like flavor is good for baking in bagels or with squash.
USES: Barley malt syrup flavor is good so it is used for baking in bagels or with squash.
BROWN RICE SYRUP
Brown rice syrup is made with brown rice and culture that’s cooked to syrup. It is half as sweet as white sugar. Its flavor is similar to butterscotch.
USED: Brown rice syrup is used for anything that needs some sweet binding can be used in making homemade granola bars.
Cane sugar is made from sugar cane that’s crushed mechanically to extract its juice. There are several unrefined and unbleached forms of cane sugar available they are:
- Muscovado sugar:Muscovado sugar is made from unrefined evaporated cane juice. Molasses is not separated from sugar stream when cane is crushed. Juice is not spun but rather dried slowly to retain more plant material in the crystals and result in a pronounced flavor with a slightly sticky texture.USED: Muscovado sugar is used in tea and making candies.
- Organic sugarWhole cane sugar raw cane juice is filtered and heated to syrup. It’s dried juice is ground to a fine granular texture.USED: Organic cane sugar is used in Tea and for Baking.
- Turbinado sugarTurbinada sugar is made by heating sugar cane juice, then spinning it in the centrifuge or turbine to extract moisture and molasses for large golden crystals.USED: Turbinada sugar is used in tea, coffee and for baking.
Coconut sugar is available in both liquid and crystal forms, often labeled as coconut palm sugar. It is produced from the sap of coconut flowers buds and cooked down to reduce the water content to produce a liquid or crystallized sweetener.
USED: Coconut sugar can be used substitute for brown sugar in food preparations; it is also used in making flour pancakes. It is used in enhance the flavor of savory dishes that typically call for a bit of sugar.
Date sugar isn’t an extract. It’s simply dried dates ground into a fine powder. It has the nutrients of whole dates, including potassium, calcium and antioxidants. Date sugar has the highest antioxidant content 500 to 600 times more than table sugar.
USED: Date sugar is used in banana bread, bar cookies, sprinkling some on yogurt or fruits.
Maple syrup is the boiled sap of sugar maple trees.
Grade A is light and from early sap.
Grade B is from later sap and has a stronger flavor.
Crystallized maple syrup granules are available as a sprinkle.
USED: Maple syrup is used in pancakes, mix it in cold beverages such as iced coffee and smoothies. It can be used to glaze vegetables or fruits before roasting or baking and to sweeten salad and dressing sauces and marinades. It is also used to glaze the sweet potatoes in lentil sweet potato salad.
Molasses is a byproduct of refining sugar cane.
Blackstrap is slightly sweet comes from the final press of sugar cane and is a source of potassium and iron. It should be refrigerated to inhibit mold.
USED: Molasses can be used in ginger cookies, swirled into warm milk at bedtime. Sweeten sauce and homemade baked beans.
Monk fruit extract is from an Asian fruit used in china for food and medicine.
Monk fruit extract stimulates insulin production also examined as a cancer fighter.
It appears to be safe material alternative to caloric sweeteners.
USED: Monk fruit is used for baking and cooking purpose, used in some packaged foods and is available in sweetener blends for home use.
Loose leaf of gymnema sylvestre can be prepared as a tea will impair the ability to taste sugar by blocking sweet receptor on the tongue. Its qualitative primary taste experiences to salt, sugar, chocolate, sweet sour candy.
USED: Gymnema Sylvestre is used in tea and coffee especially those who are known case of Diabetes.
FRUITS JUICE CONCENTRATES
Fruits juice concentrates is fruit juice cooked down and sold as either a syrup or frozen juice concentrate. The fruit flavor may be added or removed.
Although juice concentrates comes from fruits, they still are a sugar, no healthier than other sweeteners.
USED: Fruits concentrations used in purees and baked in cookies and breads.
Overall, when it comes to sugar, moderation is key!
-Dr. Rupali Bhanuse
Consultant at SYNCREMEDIES