Sugar is the biggest culprit when it comes to weight gain, obesity, tooth decay, high blood pressure, heart diseases and so on. Sounds like all these years we have been eating completely wrong! the answer is YES! You can definitely eat your sugar in moderation, but there are also healthy alternatives to sugar which can be added in your diet, and which would not harm your body. Adding these alternatives can save you from a plethora of diseases and would help you to stay fit and healthy too. So, let’s find out how you can satisfy your sweet cravings even by eliminating refined sugar from your diet and 8 Best Healthy Replacements for Refined Sugar.
1. Sunett (Acesulfame potassium): It is an artificial sweetener, but it’s doesn’t cause tooth decay or spike blood sugar level, and the best news is that it has no calories. However, it is advisable to use it in moderation to avoid potential health issues. It is advised not to exceed FDA’s recommended daily amount.
How to use: It is 200 times more sweeter than sugar and you need to use lower amount compared to regular sugar. You can add it to food at the table as Ace-K is heat-stable and can safely use it in cooking and baking.
2. Splenda Splenda/Sucralose: This compound is 600 times more sweeter than sugar, but the best part is that it does not contain any calories, so it’s perfect for people trying to lose weight or for someone who is suffering from diabetes. How to Use Splenda Splenda: There is a whole lot of variety of Splenda products available in the market including sugar-sucralose blends (which is specifically for baking). Sucralose is heat-stable and can be added to beverages and food items at the table. Again, it has to be used in lower amount as it is quite a lot sweeter than refined sugar.
3.Stevia extracts: Stevia is derived from stevia leaves and comes without calories, thus perfectly safe for diabetics. Also, it wouldn’t cause weight gain or obesity. When it comes to sweetness, it is sweeter than table sugar, so you need to use less to get optimum sweetness. The only downside is that stevia has an after-taste which if one gets used to, would not bother much. How To Use Stevia: Stevia is extracted from leaves, and is available in the market in dry form, or in powder and pellet forms. You need to experiment with both pellets and drops to find your perfect mate.
4. Paste made out of Date fruit: Dates are very nutritious and contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. They do contain a good amount of calories but they are high in fiber and contain antioxidants that fight free radicals. Stevia promotes brain health and can be easily used as sugar replacement. To make date paste, soak one cup dates in warm water for a few minutes and then blend into a fine paste. Use this paste instead of regular sugar. How To Use: Dates are excellent in smoothies, baked products, sauces, and salad dressings. Since dates are more sweeter than table sugar, you need to use them in lower amounts in their syrup form.
5. Agave nectar: This is a popular alternative and many health-conscious people rely on it. Agave has low glycemic index, but it does spike insulin. It is high in fructose and consuming agave in moderation is recommended as excessive amount can lead to weight gain. How to Use: Agave is sweeter than regular sugar and has a long shelf life. It can be used as a sugar replacement in almost every food item. The taste of agave is similar to honey and the best part it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste like most other sugar substitutes.
6. Coconut Sugar: This sugar is derived from the coconuts and is also recommended by the flag-bearer of fitness in India, Shilpa Shetty Kundra since it is nutritious compared to table sugar and is lower on the glycemic index. Since coconut sugar is unrefined, it retains most of its vitamins and minerals, and doesn’t cause sudden fluctuations in blood sugar, however, diabetics are advised to consult their doctor before starting on coconut sugar as it has the same amount of calories like sugar. But if you compare both, sugar has empty calories and doesn’t have any nutritional value. How to Use: Coconut sugar can be used as a alternative for white sugar, you can get it at the grocery store or online. Coconut sugar is coarse in nature and you can blend it out to a fine powder form.
7. Honey: Honey is a natural sweetener which is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. Raw honey contains lower amounts of fructose and is considered nature’s healthiest form of sweetener. Honey comes loaded with numerous nutrients and it has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory properties too. However, in human body, honey breaks down to glucose and fructose just as regular sugar, so it does spike insulin, so remember, even with honey, moderation is the key! How to Use: Honey can make shakes, smoothies, juices, baked goods, sauces, and salad dressings taste amazing. Just pour your required amount into the stuff you want to sweeten up.
8. Monk Fruit extracts: Monk fruit extract is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, so it’s good for cutting calories. Also, you need to use lower amounts as just a bit is enough. However, locally available monk fruit extracts have been processed to certain extent, and can contain other sweeteners like sugar alcohol or even regular sugar, so buy from a reputed brand and make sure to check the labels. How to Use: Monk fruit sweeteners have an after-taste, so use it for a couple of days in tea, coffee, smoothies before using it in baking and desserts as you may need to make some alterations in the recipe.
Tips to Cut Down Sugar:
- Eat more fruits: Since you are getting sugar from natural and healthy sources, you would be able to curb your cravings to quite an extent. You can add fresh fruits to your cereal bowl or oats to make them much more tastier.
- Eat dry fruit mix instead of chocolates or candies, or calorie-rich Indian sweets.
- Consume a yoga bar or health bar when you are craving for something sugary.
- Always check labels for hidden sugar content. Use sugar-free and no-added sugar products.
Make your mind to cut down on sugar content and treat yourself to a healthy delight every week to keep yourself motivated. Shilpa Shetty Kundra and our own Rati encourage a cheat meal every week (and Rati specifically says, it’s a cheat meal, not a cheat day).