Sugar is an inextricable part of our diets. However, more than enough studies show that it may not be the healthiest of choice. In this case, sugar substitutes seem like an absolute saviour. But how safe are they?
According to a study by Harvard Medical School, how the human body and brain respond to these artificial sweeteners is very complicated. One concern happens to be that people who use artificial sweeteners may replace the lost calories through other sources, possibly offsetting weight loss or health benefits. The same study has also revealed that the use of artificial sweeteners can make you shun healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavoured foods with less nutritional value. The study concluded that sugar isn’t too bad after all; it’s all in how it’s packaged.
Here are some natural substitutes to white sugar:
- Organic Honey: Honey is rich in vitamin B6, enzymes, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous, niacin and riboflavin. There are 64 calories in a single tablespoon of unprocessed honey. However, honey loses most of its nutritional value when pasteurised and some brands tend to add artificial sweeteners for taste. Hence it’s recommended to buy organic honey.
- Dates: Dates are rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese, and iron. As dates support to absorb carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and they are easy to digest. They are also known to help with reducing cholesterol levels.
- Coconut sugar: use of coconut sugar has increased in recent years. It is known to have a low glycaemic capacity and is rich in iron, potassium, antioxidants, zinc, polyphenols, calcium.
- Agave syrup: It is produced from the agave plant. They are low in glycemic index, which makes agave syrup suitable for use as a natural sweetener. Agave syrup has high levels of antioxidants and is best used for iced teas, cocktails, baking and pancakes.
- Maple Syrup: maple syrup is one of the most popular and delicious natural sweeteners of the world. It is very healthy and nutritious. Manganese, antioxidants, zinc, calcium, iron and potassium are some of the contents of maple syrup.
- Jaggery: Popularly known as Gud, jaggery is a traditional Indian sugar substitute used in many conventional sweet and savoury recipes and is prepared from sugarcane. It relieves headache and relaxes nerves, muscles and blood vessels. It has vital nutrients such as minerals and vitamins and enough iron, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.
- Banana Puree: Bananas are rich in fibre and potassium and a good source of vitamins B6 and C. They are also naturally sweet with a subtle flavour, making them a perfect for use in baking and smoothies.