We all like our morning cuppa with some sugar in it to kick start the day. Sugar does just that, gives you an energy rush since it is nothing but carbohydrates- the primary source of energy. But we also get carbs from cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables and all the snacks that we eat in between. While these carbs are healthy, since they also come packed with vitamins, minerals and good fats, what refined sugar comprises of is only carbohydrates, minus all the good stuff- thereby putting it on the weight watchers blacklist. It has a very high glycemic index, which means that eating refined sugar will provide an instant burst of energy that needs to be consumed immediately, else it is stored as fat. Eating a lot of refined sugar causes uneven spikes in our blood sugar levels, hormonal problems, tooth decay, obesity and a chance of contracting diabetes. Sugar is also primarily responsible for breakouts in the skin and the flab in the body. So much that, of late, doctors ask you to avoid sugar completely in the diet.
So what do you do when you have a sweet tooth and cannot do without the sweet in your daily diet? Well, you replace it with something else that is healthy as well as sweet. There are many alternatives to using sugar. We list here some of those.
This is one of the oldest natural sweeteners, made by the bees from the nectar in the flowers. Honey is rich in fructose and glucose and has a distinctive taste and flavor. One cup of sugar can be replaced by a little over 3/4th cup of honey. It is also rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and enzymes making it a superfood.
Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut Palm Sugar is the new rage among weight watchers. It is made from the sap of the palmyra plant and the coconut plant. The sap is sugary and lends the sweetness to this sugar. It is also sold under the name of coconut sugar. It has a caramelized flavor. Its glycemic index is 35, very low when compared to that of refined sugar (60). Use it as a 1:1 substitute for a spoonful of sugar.
Stevia is a leafy herb native to South America. The leaves of the stevia plant have almost 40 times the sweetness of sugar. It is available in powder and in liquid forms. It does not spike blood sugar levels and has zero calories.
Agave Syrup or Agave nectar is extracted from the sap of a cactus like plant and has a lower glycemic index than sugar. It is primarily made of fructose and takes much longer than sugar to be absorbed in the blood stream. It is 1.4 times sweeter than sugar and needs to be used accordingly in cooking.
Date sugar is a natural sweetener that is made from dried dates. It can be used in cooking and desserts. It has a lower GI when compared to sugar and is loaded with vitamins and minerals too. The only disadvantage is that, it does not dissolve in liquids so cant be used in beverages.