In today’s world, there’s an overabundance of drive-thru restaurants, packaged foods and processed treats. That’s why it’s highly likely that when you check the nutrition label of any food, meal or beverage, you will find that it contains at least some amount of sugar.
With more and more people gaining an affinity for sweets because of their otherwise strict diets, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the constant access to foods that are loaded with sugar.
However, studies show that consuming excess amounts of sugar can be particularly dangerous to your health. The Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a study finding links between consuming excess amounts of sugar and the rise in obesity across America.
Another study also linked sugar to an increased risk of death from heart disease for adults. Fortunately, there are many solutions, but perhaps the greatest solution is to replace as much sugar in your diet as you can with healthier alternatives. With the increasing need for people to improve their health, numerous food brands have developed products that can still satisfy your sweet tooth without causing long-term damage to your body.
Read on to see what you can use to swap out the sugar in your diet.
Medical Daily reports that honey contains just 64 calories per serving and is made up of about 80% carbohydrates. Since it is still quite sweet, it is one of the most ideal alternatives to sugar.
In addition, honey has countless benefits for the body. Because of the high composition of carbohydrates, honey can provide a much healthier boost of energy as compared to sugar. The energy you gain from consuming honey can leave you feeling more active throughout your day, and you won’t experience the “crash” from a sugar high. Honey is also packed with amino acids and a number of other nutrients that can provide benefits for the body.
Some studies even report that consuming local, raw honey can help reduce the symptoms of allergies, which can provide your body with much-needed relief if you regularly suffer from seasonal allergies.
You can also use honey as a substitute for sugar in baking recipes, or as an alternative to white sugar in your daily cup of coffee or tea. Additionally, you can drizzle honey on your pancakes or waffles as an alternative to maple syrup, or add a touch of honey to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.
Stevia is a sugar substitute that comes from the leaves of a plant predominately found in Central and South America. It is reportedly 40 times sweeter than regular sugar, so if you have an especially strong sweet tooth, stevia can be a smart alternative.
As a more widely accepted option, many of the biggest nutrition brands in the world are now using stevia as the primary sweetener in their sport drinks.
One major benefit of stevia is that it contains zero calories, and therefore, will not cause your blood sugar to spike like sugar does. This means you that won’t experience any “crashes” throughout the day, so you’ll feel happier and more in control of your energy levels. And who doesn’t want that?
In addition, stevia has been shown to potentially help mitigate harmful health issues, such as hypertension. There is also promising research that shows consuming stevia in place of white sugar can help to manage Type 2 Diabetes.
With such a sweet taste, stevia could be the ideal substitute for those of you looking for something really sweet to replace your sugar. Purchase stevia at your local supermarket or specialty grocery store and incorporate it into recipes, since it is useful in cooking and baking.
#3: Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is a popular sweetener from the agave plant that is primarily grown in Central and South America. Widely used in Mexico, many people enjoy agave nectar because it is a vegan option for those wanting a sweeter alternative to sugar, but don’t want to use honey.
Each teaspoon of agave contains just 20 calories, and because it tastes sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it to sweeten your food or beverages. The more you replace agave with sugar, the less sugar you consume, saving you calories and the detrimental health effects that can result. When choosing the right agave to purchase, it is best to opt for the natural, organic variety to avoid agave nectar that has been treated with pesticides.
It is useful in a wide array of recipes, but especially appropriate when making smoothies and other sweet drinks since it is so sweet.
#4: Whey Low
Whey Low is a mixture of three different types of natural sugars: sucrose, fructose and lactose. The creator of Whey Low, Lee R. Zehner, originally discovered it when seeking a solution for his diabetic wife, who wanted to continue baking and consuming sugar, but was struggling to manage her diabetes.
Whey Low works so well as a sugar alternative, partly because its three sugars interact in a way where they’re not fully absorbed by the body.
This creates an alternative to sugar that is much healthier. With only four calories per teaspoon, Whey Low is a very low-calorie alternative to sugar that can help prevent you from gaining extra weight.
You can use Whey Low as an alternative to sugar in almost any dish, as its consistency and feel are almost identical to sugar. When baking or cooking with Whey Low instead of sugar, most people won’t even be able to taste the difference.
In a study with Whey Low, researchers made hot chocolate using different types of sweeteners, including regular sugar, a sugar substitute called Nativia and Whey Low. They found that the hot chocolate with Whey Low received the highest ratings in terms of taste and ‘feel in the mouth,’ even compared to the hot chocolate containing regular sugar.
#5: Pureed Fruit / Fruit Jams
For a sweet and natural alternative to sugar, you can also puree essentially any fruit or turn it into a jam (or, of course, you can take the easier route and purchase organic jam from your grocery store).
Since fruits are naturally sweet without any artificial sweeteners or additives, you can stock up on pureed fruits or fruit jams in your favorite flavors. If you use the fruit you like most, you’ll find yourself enjoying this natural sugar substitute even more.
You can use this alternative in most baking recipes, especially if they already incorporate some type of fruit. Additionally, you can use fruit jams on any of your breakfast foods, including pancakes, toast or muffins.
You don’t have to sacrifice your sweet tooth if you want to be more health-conscious about your sugar intake. Instead, experiment with some of these tasty alternatives to find the one that works best for you.
Not only will you be satisfying your craving for sweets, but you’ll also be ensuring that your lifestyle is healthier and more fruitful. And there’s absolutely nothing sweeter than that!
Sara Jane Adkins is a writer, food-lover and mother. Founder of Natural Healthy Living, she inspires people to become more nutritionally conscious while still enjoying the foods that they love to eat.
Her articles have appeared on Calorie Count, Share Care, Healthy Fit Natural, and the Chicago Tribune. Download her free guide 5 Simple Steps to Naturally Becoming a Healthier You.
*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.
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