Nutrition
Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

5 Healthy Alternatives to Refined Sugar

Everyone loves eating sugary food, but excess of anything can be bad for health. Several surveys show that most people eat more than the required quantity of sugar in their everyday life. If you study a little about the refined sugar added to most food items and beverages, you would know that it has a poor nutritional profile and offers nothing more than extra calories and sweetness to different items. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, continuous consumption of high sugar levels can be dangerous for your health.

Even if you’re a healthy person, overconsumption of refined sugar over a prolonged period can make you prone to various health conditions like heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, etc. While it’s perfectly fine to consume sugar in moderate amounts, replacing it with healthier sweeteners can be an even better option. So if you’re looking to incorporate sugar-free substitutes into your daily life, this guide is for you. You can pick any of the alternatives to refined sugar mentioned below and start leading a healthier lifestyle.    

Sugar Alcohols

Popularly known as polyols, sugar alcohols can be best defined as carbohydrates found naturally in fruits and vegetables. You can come across various popular types of sugar alcohols, but maltitol, erythritol, and xylitol are the most popular ones. The best part of sugar alcohols is that they have fewer calories. They also don’t ferment in your mouth, preventing any incidences of damaging your teeth. Sugar alcohol’s low-calorie content makes it a healthier alternative to refined sugar.

You can easily replace your regular sugar with erythritol as it contains only 0.2 grams calories per gram. Refined sugar, on the other hand, contains approximately 4 calories per gram. Xylitol can also be used as it has a maximum of 2.4 grams of calories per gram. Of all the primary benefits of using sugar alcohols, the most important is that their low calories don’t result in any blood sugar spike, making it an ideal sugar-free substitute for people with diabetes. But remember to not over-consume sugar alcohols.   

Dates

A very popular alternative to refined sugar is dates. This chewy, sweet fruit is found on the date palm trees. Unlike refined sugar, dates are loaded with essential nutrients. Vitamin B6, fiber, magnesium, potassium, carotenoid, manganese, magnesium, and polyphenol antioxidants are just some of the nutrients available in dates. Despite being sweet, it doesn’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike unusually. 

According to a survey conducted over 16 weeks, people who took dates showed a significant reduction in bad cholesterol levels, while their HbA1c remained unchanged. It is one reason why many use dates to make energy bars, cookies, cakes, smoothies, and a lot more. You can either use a whole seedless date during preparation or make a date paste in advance to use later during cooking. It is a sugar-free substitute that is delicious and comes with various health benefits. 

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Honey

You must have used honey at least once in your life. It is a thick, golden liquid mass-produced by honeybees. Since its production is 100% natural, it is loaded with abundant nutritional benefits. It contains loads of minerals, vitamins, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. The nutritional profile of honey may vary from one variety to another because not all bees feed on the same type of flower, and not bees are of the same kind. 

If you take good-quality, pure honey, it may help modulate inflammation in the human body. Honey also has a relatively lower glycemic index than refined sugar, making it favorable for consumption for people with diabetes. All these benefits make honey much healthier than refined sugar. Even if you use honey as a sugar replacement, use it in moderation.   

Applesauce or Other Fruit Purees

You would already know that fruits are healthier than refined sugar. An excellent way to reduce your refined sugar intake is by replacing it with apple or any other fruit puree. The benefits of puree will depend on the type of fruit you use. For example, if you use the mashed banana puree in your cooking recipes, you can benefit from the abundant Vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, manganese, etc. 

But irrespective of the fruit you use to make a puree, you can be sure to derive common health benefits from it. Reduced risk of chronic illnesses is one of the most significant benefits of using fruit purees. If you don’t have the time to make fresh purees from fruits and want to buy packaged ones, make sure you choose the unsweetened one.   

Maple Syrup

The last sugar-free substitute on our list is maple syrup. This thick, sugary liquid is obtained by cooking maple tree’s sap. Maple syrup has all the benefits of zinc, iron, anti-inflammatory properties, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants. People use maple syrup during their diabetes journey because it has a significantly lower glycemic index compared to refined sugar. But that doesn’t alter its taste. 

Maple syrup tastes like any other natural sweetener and has various health benefits. Despite being sweet in taste and highly nutritious, it should not be consumed on a large scale. Adding it to your food items won’t enhance your insulin levels. Moderation is the key to obtaining maximum health benefits, so make sure you follow it.   

Keeping Sugar Intake on the Lower End Can be Super Beneficial

Refined sugar may taste great, but it brings along various health problems. If you consume high levels of refined sugar, you may develop diseases or illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, tooth cavities, gum diseases, fatty liver, depression, and much more. People who consume moderate or permissible sugar levels are reportedly healthier than those who don’t. It is one crucial reason that many health experts suggest lowering sugar consumption for all. But if you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you must take extra care of your sugar consumption. The less sugar you eat, the better. 

Bottomline

Leaving sugar altogether can be a difficult option for many, especially if you have been taking it for years. But the best part is you can slowly part ways with refined sugar by switching it with its alternatives. Natural sweeteners are an excellent sugar-free substitute as they offer the same taste minus the calories and adverse health benefits. So if you want to make a switch to a healthy lifestyle, we suggest you start using any of the refined sugar alternatives covered in this article. You will never regret this decision.

References

  • https://food.ndtv.com/health/try-these-5-healthy-sugar-alternatives-2450245

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