Want to lower your sugar intake? Curb the sugar cravings with these natural sweeteners...
These days, sugar’s been getting a bad rep. But to make things clear, natural sugar plays an important role in bodily functions like providing energy to your muscles and brain. It’s typically found in fruits and vegetables, which boast other important nutrients like vitamin C, dietary fibre and iron. All that to say: Our ongoing war is actually with refined sugar.
Refined sugar is the real enemy
Refined sugar is made up of simple sugars like sucrose and fructose, and they contain no nutritional benefits whatsoever. It is extracted through an onerous process from natural sources and then artificially added to food products in large amounts. Studies have shown that high sugar consumption is linked to diseases like diabetes and obesity.
However, removing refined sugar from your diet is not as easy as you think. It has sneakily made its way to almost everything, from your daily coffee and yogurt to salad dressing and anything that labels itself as fat-free. It even disguises itself under various innocent-sounding names, including agave nectar, cane sugar and palm sugar. Yes, chances are, low-fat food products can be loaded with refined sugar to make up for the lack of flavour. And it doesn’t help that we have a soft spot for bubble tea, ice cream and cupcakes. Still, at the end of the day, it’s about the quantity consumed. Everything in moderation, as they say!
While going sugar-free may be your ultimate goal, it’s all about taking baby steps and these natural sweeteners are the lesser of two evils when you’re craving for something saccharine.
The commercial ones are laced with corn syrup, refined sugars and additives – things that would make maple syrup heiress Cheryl Blossom of Riverdale gasp with disgust. Our recommendation? Pick the organic ones as they’re chock full of antioxidants and minerals like calcium and iron. How do you know if it’s free from all the nasty stuff? You’ll come across a clean ingredient list that states 100% maple syrup. A jar full of natural goodness! Drizzle it over pancakes or waffles and you’re all set for a wholesome meal.
Caffeine junkies, skip the table sugar and add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning coffee. Apart from adding a note of sweetness to your drink, this aromatic spice stimulates your metabolism to burn belly fat. More importantly, it keeps your blood sugar level in check by imitating the effects of insulin.
This plant-derived sweetener has been gaining traction over the years with beverage companies adding it to their low-sugar products. Containing zero calories, with a glycemic index of zero, it allows you to easily get off the blood sugar rollercoaster. Plus, stevia is 200 times sweeter than refined sugar! Just add it to your tea or coffee and you’ll see. Take note to consume it in moderation though.
Derived from the yacon plant, this underrated natural sweetener doubles up as a prebiotic. Apart from using it as an alternative to store bought syrups, it can also be used to marinate meat and seafood. Boasting high amounts of fructooligosaccharides (a sugar alternative), this non-digestible carbohydrate acts as soluble fibres that feed your friendly gut bacteria. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
If you’re a sugar fiend like us and giving up on baked treats seems like a living nightmare, don’t fret. Blessed by Mother Nature, dates are the perfect natural sweetener. Plus, they are packed with calcium and iron. Just pop them in a food processor to make a paste and use it to replace sugar when you’re baking up a storm. In a rush to curb your sugar craving? Simply eat it in its natural form.
From water to milk to sugar, coconuts are having a moment right now and we can see why. Made by boiling the sap from the coconut’s flower bud, these brown crystals are crammed with electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, and sodium), minerals (iron, calcium and zinc) and antioxidants. Extra points for its low glycemic index. Easily add it to a bowl of oatmeal for an elevated healthy treat.