It would be extremely safe to state that most people out there have a sweet tooth. After all, who doesn’t like to dig in that absolutely heavenly piece of cheesecake, or that waffle cone, oozing with maple syrup? Or those rich, fluffy pancakes, drowned in a pool of honey? A meal is usually considered to be complete with a dessert being served at the end. But then, over the years, people have also seen and extensively researched upon the cons of sugar i.e. the source of all this sweetness. Excessive sugar consumption is linked to major health issues like obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc. So, as people are becoming more and more health conscious, they’re trying to substitute white sugar with relatively healthier (?) alternatives. The most common sugar substitutes are the artificial sweeteners like aspartame, but little do we realize that these artificial sweeteners are more harmful than sugar itself. This is because aspartame is 600 times sweeter than sucrose, which is the chief constituent of sugar. So, in this article, a humble attempt to list 7 healthier and natural sugar substitutes has been made. Both the pros and cons of each component have been written here. So, instead of giving up on sugar completely, you might as well try this out-
Read More: How Much Sugar is Good for Your Kids?
7 Substitues to Sugar Everyone Must Try
Although no specific scientific study has successfully proven that jaggery is a better substitute for sugar, yet it must be known that it has certain health benefits, that are absent in sugar. Both jaggery and sugar have the same origin, which is cane juice. However, sugar is a refined form of that cane juice, which makes it look white and has empty calories. Jaggery, on the other hand, has a more complex structure. Due to the sulphitation and carbonation, i.e. treatment with sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide respectively, sugar granules are white in color and have only sucrose (C12H22O11). However, jaggery is not treated with any chemicals, as a result of which it is dark in color, and has traces of mineral salts and iron. Due to this complex structure, jaggery takes time to digest and thus is relatively better for people, especially for diabetics.
2. Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is manufactured from the same process as that of white sugar, but it contains molasses, which are absent in white sugar. Hence, it is dark in color. Nutrition wise, it isn’t different from white sugar but nevertheless, due to the presence of the molasses, it is a healthier substitute.
Honey is arguably one of the most popular substitutes for sugar, probably more popular than jiggery or brown sugar because neither is it seasonal like jiggery, nor is it as expensive as brown sugar. Honey is easily available and is a staple part of many households. Again, it hasn’t been scientifically proven that honey is beneficial for people, particularly diabetics. But since honey, as a natural sweetener, contains minerals and vitamins, it is considered as a safer alternative for sugar, as compared to other artificial sweeteners.
This is another sugar substitute, which has been used in Japan and South America since ages, but is gradually gaining popularity in other parts of the world. It is extracted from the leaves of the plant Stevia Rebaudiana. It is 150 times sweeter than sugar, but unlike sugar, it doesn’t contain empty calories and carbohydrates, which makes it ideal for health-conscious people. However, it leaves a bitter aftertaste; therefore its taste is more of an acquired taste.
5. Maple Syrup
Consumed by Native Americans since ages, 80% of this syrup is produced in Canada now, where it forms a very integral part of the diet. Maple syrup is manufactured from the sap of maple trees. But now it is commercially available in almost all countries with a decent economy, so you can easily find it in your local supermarket. Again, it can’t be said that maple syrup is healthy per se, since it contains a high amount of sugar too. But like other substitutes, it contains minerals and a lot of antioxidants, which makes it relatively healthier than sugar.
6. Fruit High In Sugar Content
If consumed in a permissible limit, fruits high in sugar content can occasionally serve as a healthy and tasty substitute for sugar and other sugary foods. Seasonal fruits like mango, apples, oranges etc. are not only sweet in taste, but contain vitamins and healthy fats, all of which contribute to the overall dietary requirements of an average human being. But then, too much of intake of such fruits might result in increase of glucose levels in blood, so that should be taken into consideration.
7. Yacon Syrup
Another gift from South America, this syrup is obtained from the native plant, which is found in the Andes mountain range. Due to high amount of soluble fiber, it helps people dealing with constipation and other stomach related issues. Again, it is gradually becoming popular with health-conscious people.
A very important point to be noted is that contrary to popular belief, these substitutes for sugar, natural or otherwise, aren’t completely free of vices themselves. The misconception that diabetic people can safely consume these substitutes, without a second thought, is highly dangerous, for an excessive amount of any substitute can result in a drastic increase in the blood sugar level, which might lead to further complications like stroke, heart disease or, in extreme cases, a sudden death. Hence, it is very important to keep in mind one’s health condition and consult a trusted physician, before making any major dietary changes. For people not suffering from diabetes or any other disease, these substitutes might be relatively healthier, but nevertheless, it is important to keep sugar intake in control and try to limit it to as much a minimum level as possible.