What comes to your mind when someone mentions about sweets – a piece of chocolate, a warm spongy rasgulla or a piece of ghee laden Mysore pak? In fact, we Indians can’t say no to sweets since it’s so culturally inclined! We eat sweets when we welcome a new member to our families, in any victory and in any festival. And it goes without saying, it is impossible to avoid sweets completely from our lives no matter how much we try!
Sugar is considered as the worst ingredient in food in the modern diet. People often quit eating sugary foods because of the calories it contains. Adding to all this, sugary food invites obesity, heart related-diseases, diabetes and cancer. According to the professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Rachel Johnson, sugar does two things to the human body. It either adds more calories to the diet or displaces the nutritious food in the diet.
But does sweetening just concise of sugar? There are many healthy sugar substitutes available such as honey, stevia, molasses, coconut sugar, etc. These substances add sweet flavour to the food and do not harm the body. We have listed some of these sugar substitutes and their benefits.
Erythritol: Erythritolis, a type of sugar alcohol that makes it an organic compound. It contains as much as 6% of the calories of regular sugar, which counts to 0.24 calories per gram. Erythritol tastes almost like sugar, making it easier to switch.
Erythritol is safe to consume as the human body does not have the enzymes to break down erythritol. Hence, most of it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine unchanged. It also doesn’t increase the blood sugar level, insulin, cholesterol or triglyceride levels in the body. However, one should consume only one gram per pound (.45 kg) of body weight on a daily basis. Higher dosage can lead to minor indigestion issues in some people.
Maple Syrup: Maple Syrup is organic sweet syrup made from boiling down the sap of maple tree. It contains minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese. Maple syrup also has 24 different types of antioxidants however; it should be consumed in moderation. It is very high in sugar and if consumed in larger amount, it can raise blood sugar levels. You can add a little amount of maple syrup in your roasted vegetables, shredded green leafy salads and rice salads to enhance the taste of these foods.
Organic Honey: Honey is one of the oldest and most commonly used sweeteners. Produced by honey bees, honey is often sweeter than sugar. It has abundant beneficial antioxidants but there are only a trace amount of vitamins and minerals in it. Consuming a moderate amount of honey every day can increase good HDL cholesterol and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides in individuals with diabetes.
Molasses: Molasses is made by cooking sugar cane or sugar beet juice. It has a thick syrup-like consistency and is very high in antioxidants. Molasses is also rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium and calcium. Consuming molasses benefits the bones and ensures good heart health.
Stevia: Stevia is one of the healthiest sugar substitutes. It is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant, making it a zero calories sweetener. Consuming stevia-based sweeteners has many health benefits attached to it. Stevia has stevioside, a sweet compound that helps reduce blood sugar levels by 6-14%. It can also lower down the blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby helping you fight with diabetes. Stevia is considered the safest amongst all natural sweeteners as it doesn’t have any ill effects on the body.
Having sweet in your diet is imperative. It moderates the blood glucose levels in the body and gives adequate energy to function properly. However, to avoid the harmful effects of sugar, you should substitute it with healthier options. You can also switch to Swee10, a stevia-based product. It is absolutely herbal and doesn’t have any side effects on the body. Swee10 is a zero-calorie sugar substitute available online in Bangalore.