We are very much aware that sugar added to desserts can lead to a variety of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain. If you are among the people who love to eat sweet foodstuffs but don’t want to pile on calories, here is a good news! Now your sweet tooth will not get in the way of your weight loss. I am going to reveal some natural and healthy sugar substitutes which you can use instead of sugar.
Healthy Sugar Substitutes: SUGAR LEAF (Stevia)
Sugar leaf is a herb which is naturally very sweet and is popularly called Stevia. It is not like other artificial sweeteners as it is plant based. As it is derived from a natural extract, there is no chance of containing any harming properties.
It is 200 times sweeter than sugar in the same concentration. Its leaves can be used in beverages for a sweet taste and in baking products, you can add powder of its dried leaves.
If you want to lose weight or are on low-carb diet, ‘Sugar Leaf’ is a a viable sweetening option as it has almost zero calories and no carbohydrates. Even for diabetics, stevia is any day better than any other sugar substitute. It reduces blood pressure for patients with mild hypertension and may have the potential to reduce breast cancer cell growth.
Honey is considered to be one of the healthy sugar substitutes. Infact, it is one of the oldest sweeteners in the world.
It does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as it’s GI is less than sugar. Use it in moderation as it does have slightly more calories than sugar. But as it is sweeter than sugar, you may use less of it. Make sure to use ‘raw honey’ as it is the one that has not been heated, pasteurised, clarified or filtered in any way. This helps in retaining more of the health promoting nutrients.
It easily dissolves in liquid so you can add it to your beverages like milk instead of adding sugar. You can also sweeten your desserts with it or even spread it on bread for breakfast.
It is ideal for people who want to lose weight, if drunk with lemon juice water. It has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which helps in healing wounds and as well as help in digestion. Honey contains lots of vitamins and minerals and being rich in antioxidants, it makes your skin glow.
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DATE (Khajur) SYRUP
Date syrup is extracted from dates (rich in potassium, magnesium and manganese) using a soaking and squeezing process. That is why, it is quite unrefined, and considered healthy, because many of the nutrients are retained that are notoriously lacking in processed sugar.
It is completely natural, high in fiber, lower in calories, and contains around 33% less sugar than table sugar.
Date syrup has a thick consistency and a rich flavour. It can be used best for baking for an extra moist sweetness. You can also use it as a topping for desserts or spread it on toast.
Jaggery or Gur (as it is known in hindi) is the most inexpensive form of traditional Indian sweetener. It is made from sugarcane and is the closest substitute for sugar when it comes to usage. It’s very natural as the process of making jaggery does not involve any chemical agents.
Jaggery is available in powder form, solid form and even liquid form. It can be used exactly like sugar. You can chop and dissolve it in water to form a syrup which can be used to sweeten rice, custards, ice cream etc.
It has many health benefits as compared to sugar. It helps in curing problems like cough, constipation and indigestion. Cleanses the liver by flushing out toxins from the body, boosts immunity and increases Hb content in body. No doubt, jaggery is often called a medicinal sugar.
Raisins are rich in antioxidants and fiber. These little dried grapes are a great replacement for table sugar.
Add raisins to any baked product to get a natural tangy sweet taste. Cutting them into very small pieces helps distribute the flavors and sweetness more evenly.
Using raisins in the place of sugar helps in maintaining blood sugar level.
Maple syrup is nothing but simply the boiled down sap of the maple tree. It is a rich source of calcium, potassium, zinc and also antioxidants.
This syrup is two times sweeter than white sugar with low level of calories. It provides high quality taste with caramel flavor in it. Spread some maple syrup over pancakes and waffles to enjoy its delicious earthy flavor.
It fights inflammatory diseases and has anticancer properties too.
Agave nectar is a sweet brown liquid, derived from the sap of the agave plant. Remember, the darker the colour, the richer the taste! It has become the perfect sweetener to replace the simply sweet flavor of table sugar.
There are slightly more calories in agave than white sugar. But as it is said to be 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar, you need to use less than half the amount of agave to achieve the same sweetness, that means fewer calories overall. Glycemic index (GI) of agave is lower than table sugar and thus does not cause such a rapid spike in a insulin.
Agave nectar has a very long shelf life, and does not crystallize. It is versatile and easy to use. It makes a great ingredient when it comes to sweetening hot drinks, porridge, sauces, salad dressings and a wide variety of other foods.
Isn’t it a great way to treat yourself without ruining your diet? Make sure to consume these in moderation and pick organic varieties.