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Are Sugar Alternatives a Healthier Option?

Organic seeds and Honey

Written and Edited by: Nature’s Superfoods Team

What is Refined Sugar?

Refined sugar has many names associated with it. Some of these include white sugar, cane sugar, caster sugar, granulated sugar, and icing sugar, all of which are heavily ingrained in the food industry today. Refined sugar is often added to processed foods, including the foods that have been claimed to be healthy. From crackers to granola bars, refined sugar can be found in several food types. Therefore, it is pivotal to keep an eye out for any of these “hidden” ingredients to determine how healthy they truly are. With at least 61 different names for sugar, ranging from cane sugar to glucose, it is often disguised in the ingredients list rendering consumers unaware of the actual components.

Why is Refined Sugar Bad? 

Even if refined sugars where “hidden” in the ingredient list, often going unnoticed, why is it so important for consumers to look into it thoroughly? For one, sugar does not contain vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, or protein, nor does it offer any nutritional benefits to the body. The mere consumption of sugar is thus simply for the temporary appeasement of our taste buds. But what makes it a matter of concern, is that most of us eat way more of it than we should. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar is known to cause significant health problems like Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and Heart Disease.

Evidence suggests that sugar interferes with hormones in the body which regulate hunger and satiety (feeling of fullness). It can also have a negative impact on our metabolism which will eventually lead to weight gain. For this reason, many people who are aware of these detrimental effects have turned to healthy sugar alternatives. Should you use sugar alternatives? How do you pick the best one?

Types of Sugar Alternatives

1. Honey

Honey contains traces of vitamins and minerals, as well as an abundance of beneficial antioxidants. The antioxidant activity is due to the phenolic acids and flavonoids in honey which helps prevent inflammation, Diabetes, and Heart Diseases. However, honey is still high in sugar content. Hence, it cannot be consumed too frequently by people with Diabetes, and it must be limited for those on weight-loss diets. The antioxidant and nutritional values of honey also depends on the type of honey you decide to consume – instead of processed ones, opt for pure, raw honey to reap optimal benefits.

So, what is a good quality honey? Nature’s Superfoods Raw Unpasteurised Honey is a great option. It is an ideal substitute to refined sugar for those looking for antiviral and anti-bacterial benefits to prevent cold and flu. Try out our Ceylon Cinnamon Milk drink recipe which has raw honey in it.

2. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar contains a few nutrients, including iron, zinc, calcium, potassium as well as antioxidants. Nature’s Superfoods Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is a great option to consider. It is also known to have a lower glycaemic index compared to refined sugar, so its sugar content will be slowly released into the bloodstream instead of spiking it at alarming levels.

Why is it that coconut sugar has this property? This may be partly due to its inulin content. Inulin is a type of soluble fibre that has been shown to slow digestion, increase fullness, feed healthy bacteria in your gut, and stabilise blood sugar. However, coconut sugar is still known to be high in calories, so moderation is key, especially for those on weight-loss diets.

Not sure how to incorporate coconut sugar into your diets? A great recipe to try out is the Spicy Ginger Punch which has coconut sugar in it.

3. Yacon Syrup

Yacon Syrup , derived from the yacon roots which are native to the Andes. It contains 40–50% fructooligosaccharides. This is a special type of sugar molecule that cannot be digested by the body. Thus, it is known to have a very low Glycaemic Index (less than 1) making it a great option for people with Diabetes.

Due to its fructooligosaccharide content, yacon syrup is also known to contain one-third of the calories of refined sugar. It is also said to increase feelings of satiety, which may help you feel full faster and, as a result, eat less. This makes it a great sugar alternative for those leading a healthy lifestyle or weight-loss journey. 

A great option is Nature’s Superfoods Organic Premium Yacon Root Syrup which can be easily incorporated into many recipes as a sugar substitute. Why not try our recipe to make a Maqui hot chocolate beverage which is sweetened with yacon syrup?

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