You probably know eating too much sugar is bad for your health. Excess sugar consumption can cause tooth decay, obesity, and many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. But how much is too much?
As awareness for this serious issue continues to increase, so too has the media hype about the view that all sugar should be avoided. Well, not all sugar is bad. The truth is our bodies need sugar to function properly so you shouldn’t cut it out of your life completely. After all, carbohydrates as a primary source of energy play an essential role in fuelling the body. But the thing is that many people consume too much food and drinks with refined sugar hence health problems occur.
Major sources of added sugar include sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, and sweet snacks. Sugar is literally everywhere, so it’s impossible to avoid it entirely. Luckily, there are many natural sweeteners that make a great alternative to refined white sugar which can be easily substituted in your baking and cooking.
These sugar substitutes can help you keep your total sugar intake to a minimum while also adding a touch of sweetness to your favourite food or drink. Read on to learn more about the healthy sugar alternatives.
List of Sugar Substitutes
If you want to cut down sugar consumption, consider using some of the healthy counterparts. From sweeteners to naturally sweet ingredients, you will find plenty of sugar substitutes natural and artificial alike to replace white refined sugar.
All sugar alternatives can easily replace a teaspoon of white refined sugar in your coffee or tea, be sprinkled on your porridge, or put in a heap in your favourite cake. However, you may want to carefully consider which sweetener to use. Before we cover healthy sugar substitutes, it’s worth mentioning that banana, dates, molasses, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and stevia are among the most popular sweetening options.
Sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol are also quite popular and are used more often among those who follow keto or low-carb diets. However, these foods should still be enjoyed in moderation. After all, sugar is still sugar. Now, let’s take a closer look at several options of healthy sweeteners that offer a better choice than refined white sugar.
Erythritol and Xylitol
Erythritol and xylitol are healthy and natural sugar alternatives that contain almost zero calories and zero grams of net carbs. As such, they are especially suitable for low carb and keto dieters, vegans, and people with diabetes. Literally, anyone who is looking to cut their sugar consumption can benefit from using erythritol or xylitol as a sugar substitute.
These two low-carb sugar substitutes natural in composition contain alcohols that have a sweet taste just like regular sugar so they can be easily added in your favourite food or drink. In fact, xylitol has 100% sweetness, while erythritol is only about 70% as sweet as regular sugar and might be a better option in regard to tooth health. As for their origin, commercially sold xylitol comes from raw plants such as birch wood and corn cobs, while erythritol is made from maize-based products.
Though it’s about 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, stevia is often touted as a safe and healthy sugar alternative because it’s made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. A pinch of stevia powder equals to about one teaspoon of refined white sugar.
More often than not, stevia is combined with other sweeteners, such as erythritol and monk fruit, as it has a bitter aftertaste. This is due to the fact it contains compounds that interact with the bitter receptors of the tongue. It’s one of the popular sugar substitutes natural in type since it has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients, so it can be used to sweeten up foods without taking a toll on your health.
Coconut sugar also makes a great sugar alternative and it’s quite a popular sweetener in vegan diets as it is plant-based and minimally processed. Since it contains healthy fats and minerals, it’s said to be helpful with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm tree, not the coconuts, and it’s almost identical to regular cane sugar in terms of nutrients and calories, though it has a lower glycaemic index. Having a sweet taste just like regular sugar, coconut sugar can easily substitute it in your baking and cooking.
Monk fruit is another popular sweetener that’s natural since it’s extracted from the swingle fruit. It’s around 100-250 sweeter than table sugar and has zero calories. As such, it doesn’t raise the blood sugar levels. Though there is limited research, monk fruit extract is generally considered a safe and healthy alternative with no negative side effects.