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We’re all guilty of eating one too many sugary foods now and then. But it’s really addictive, isn’t it? The problem is that it is an ingredient in the products we consume every day – desserts, sodas, biscuits, etc. It is imperative to keep a check on sugar intake considering how harmful it is to our health according to the latest studies. You should, like many others these days, cut down on the sugar intake to avoid getting diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
But as it turns out, several replacements of sugar are equally bad for our health. Splenda, an artificial sweetener, is a perfect example of a substance that can upset your digestion. Irrespective of how motivated you are, leaving sugar altogether is very difficult. The good news is that you can satiate your body’s sweet cravings with fruit and several other ingredients.
Eating healthy is considered to be equally important to exercise for fitness. Consult certified nutritionists on your time with FITFEAST. Get customized daily diet plans as per your preferences to achieve your fitness in your own time. Keep a track or your calorie intake along with water intake for optimum results.
Sugar, not the compound found in fruits but the processed white ingredient we all use daily, has no health benefits at all. It has no benefits since it contains no protein, vitamins, minerals, or essential fats. More importantly, the human body doesn’t need it.
- Sugar affects hormones and hunger, which leads to increased calorie intake and thus weight gain
- It hinders the metabolism that increases insulin and fat storage
- It is associated with obesity; those who consume sugar are highly likely to be overweight or obese
- High sugar intake can easily cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
- It is addictive; it acts almost like drugs on the brain, which leads to cravings and overeating
Although not completely harmless, honey is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The benefits of honey have been studied for long; it increases the level of antioxidants in the blood, which is associated with a lowered risk of disease.
This natural sweetener contains nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, Vitamin B6, calcium, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorous that fight free radicals and improve digestive health. It is also known to increase HDL cholesterol while reducing LDL cholesterol. Honey does not affect blood sugar levels and metabolism as compared to sugar. However, honey does contain fructose, which can still cause health problems. Look for raw honey, as pasteurized honey loses all its benefits.
Agave nectar is a natural sweetener produced from the juice of the agave plant, which is the same spiky plant that gives us Tequila. It grows in Mexico and its nectar contains vitamins and minerals more soluble than those in honey. It is considered to be vegan-friendly.
It is sweeter than honey, which means you can use less but also means that it’s high in fructose. Agave contains almost the same amount of calories as sugar, which could lead to increased fat levels in the blood, causing insulin resistance and an increased risk of type-2 diabetes. It could also lead to a fatty liver, which means it is better to avoid it altogether.
The benefits of coconut water and coconut milk are well known. It is widely consumed and flour is made out of it as well. The low glycemic index and high mineral content of coconut sugar make it a good option. It contains zinc, potassium, iron, polyphenols, antioxidants, phosphorus, and other phytonutrients. It is the extracted sap of the coconut blooms. It retains the vitamins and minerals when unrefined, which maintains the blood sugar but it might be harmful to diabetic patients.
It can be readily used as a substitute for white or brown sugar as it is easily available. Its texture is rough and you need to blend it or process it in a food processor before it can be used, especially instead of sugar.
Reminds you of pancakes or waffles? Well, it’s not quite the same cause the popular products contain only a minimal percentage of pure maple syrup. Maple syrup is packed with 20+ antioxidants along with nutrients such as manganese, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Studies and research suggest that it has breast and colon cancer-fighting properties. It is sustainable as well since maple trees can produce sap for over a century if tended well. However, it doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you like since it contains a 2/3rd amount of calories as compared to sugar.
Native to South America, Stevia comes from the leaves of the bush of the same name. It is exponentially sweeter than sugar but contains no calories. Stevia, in white powder or drops form, is used as an ingredient in some sports drinks and sodas. Stevia is completely natural and can help prevent metabolic syndrome and other related conditions in addition to lowering high blood pressure.
But it can lead to lower than normal blood pressure as well, which is not ideal. It may also react with certain medications and you should, therefore, avoid it when on medication or consult a doctor before consuming it.
While these alternatives may be healthier than sugar, it is wise to avoid them as much as possible. Eat fruit to satiate your sweet tooth, as it is healthy.