The nutrition industry is experiencing a period of great change. It has profound consequences for the average family because much of what we’ve been taught about food is no longer valid.
Fat, for example, has been demonised for many decades, with health experts advising people to stick to low-fat diets if they want to be fit and strong.
Within the last five years, however, much evidence has been found to suggest that fat isn’t the food villain that we once thought. In fact, some fats can speed up metabolism and actually help people stay lean. Sugar, on the other hand, has been vastly underestimated and we’re only just starting to understand its destructive nature.
Sugar is a highly addictive substance, so you’re not alone in feeling like you need it in your life. Nevertheless, it is extremely unhealthy and, wherever possible, you should try to reduce your consumption. Keep reading for advice on the best sugar substitutes.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener made out of the fibrous components of plants. While it tastes similar to sugar, it has entirely different properties. It does not break down and coat teeth or produce acidic conditions in the mouth.
For this reason, it has been a popular addition to sugar-free gum for many years. Xylitol health benefits include the reduction of bad breath symptoms, antiviral and antibacterial effects, a healthier mouth overall, and even support for weight loss, as it suppresses appetite.
While maple syrup might look like a gloriously sticky and sugary treat, it is actually made entirely from plant sap. So, it not only tastes great, it is a much healthier alternative. In fact, maple syrup contains over fifty different antioxidants which is a pretty incredible health boost.
Many of these antioxidants are called phenolic compounds and they minimise the level of free radical damage in the body. This reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of various chronic conditions. The next time that you smother your pancakes with syrup, you can do it guilt free.
The health benefits of raw honey are well documented. It supports weight loss, provides natural relief from allergies, wards off infections, boosts energy levels, increases the health of the immune system, and even helps with sleep regulation.
There’s very little which honey cannot nourish or nurture in some way, so it is one of the best alternatives to sugar. It is highly versatile, so you can put it in tea, coffee, cereals, yoghurts, granola, and baked desserts. Honey tastes amazing as an addition to fragrant herbal teas.
When it comes to natural sweeteners, most people either use xylitol or stevia. You’ll find that stevia is recommended more often for those with blood sugar problems. It contains no calories and it is an entirely natural substance made out of plant materials.
The only downside to stevia is that is has become a major staple in supermarkets. This has triggered a rise in heavily processed varieties and they can be full of unnecessary chemicals. Where possible stick with full, green leaf stevia which hasn’t been rigorously processed.
The importance of sugar substitutes
For most, the prospect of cutting out or even just cutting back on sugar is a little daunting. It hides in almost everything that we eat, from chocolate bars and candy to salads, sandwiches, and pasta sauces. It is currently fuelling obesity crisis in several countries around the world, as well as contributing to deaths from heart disease and diabetes.
So, sugar is serious stuff. It is a hazard to your health and, even if you cannot eliminate it entirely from your diet, you might want to think about reducing consumption. With so many great alternatives, ditching the bad stuff doesn’t mean compromising on flavour. You can still enjoy your cakes, coffees, waffles, and cookies as enthusiastically as ever.