With mounting evidence against refined sugars and its harmful effects on our health, many are abstaining from it entirely. But that’s not necessary anymore as many sugar substitutes are not only getting popular for their health benefits but also are readily available these days.
Here’s a list of the five best substitutes to sugar that are healthy and so delicious that you will know exactly what to support in the natural fruit sugar vs processed sugar debate.
Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm. Unlike refined sugars, it isn’t refined and retains all its nutrients. It also doesn’t lead to fluctuations in blood sugar making it a healthy alternative to synthetic sweeteners. Coconut sugar can be used at a ratio of 1:1 in any dish or drink calling for sugar, especially in baking. People with diabetes are however advised to consult a physician before substituting this in their diet. Coconut sugar is found in raw coconut and coconut milk which is a healthy type of nut milk.
Jaggery is one of the most popular sweeteners in India. While refined sugars did come in and sidetrack it for decades, it is quickly coming back as an effective sugar substitute. Unlike sugar, which, like jaggery, is derived from sugarcane, jaggery powder or blocks actually retain their nutrients. They are known to flush out toxins from the body, making them good for the liver and also contain minerals like zinc and selenium, which helps in anti-ageing. Jaggery is also known as an immunity booster.
On their own, or turned into paste, dates are a nutritious and delicious alternative to refined sugar. They are rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre and also contain calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Dates can be eaten as they are or turned into a paste by grinding ¼ cup of warm water with 1 cup of deseeded dates. You can also buy cold extracted juices that are made with dates.
Unlike other sweeteners, including some on this list, stevia has 0 calories! It is also 200 times sweeter than refined sugar. So, just a drop of stevia liquid or a pinch of stevia powder can satiate your sweet cravings. Studies also show that stevia has the potential to treat endocrine diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Stevia can also be added to all fruit juices to add a dash of sweetness
Refined sugars are higher in the glycemic index (GI) meaning they get absorbed quickly and raise the levels of blood sugar. Honey is not only lower in GI, but also sweeter, which means that you require less of it than sugar. Raw, unadulterated honey is also more natural than sugar, which is processed to the extent of losing all its nutritive value. Honey, on the other hand, retains all its nutrients, flavours and character. Adding honey to a pineapple juice blend can enrich its flavour and also promote weight-loss.
So, now that you know the different sugar substitutes, swap your refined sugar with these alternatives and stay healthy.