Let’s face it losing weight is not easy and most people in spite of trying everything fails to get their desired result.
And do you know why?
Most people are unable to quit table sugar which is the regular white refined sugar that we use in our homes and as a result, all the hard work that we do in losing weight goes in vain.
So what can be done?
All you need to do is replace refined table sugar with healthier alternatives.
In this article, we are going to read about some healthier alternatives for sugar that serve the same purpose, are easily available and come at fairly the same prices.
Why refined sugar is bad for you?
One of the worst foods that most people consume on a daily basis is refined sugar. It is not just unhealthy but also addictive so much so that it was found to be 8 times more addictive than cocaine – a drug that is banned in most countries. [1, 2]
Sugar is one ingredient on which the packaged food industry is thriving.
Colas, juices, biscuits, ketchup, chocolates, flavoured cereals, you name it and they are all loaded with sugar. Every time we eat refined sugar our brain releases feel-good (dopamine) chemicals. This is the reason we crave sugary foods again and again.
But what if we do not want to cut it down?
Simple! Just replace it.
Sugar coming from natural sources like fruits isn’t problematic for the body as it comes along with fibre, vitamins and minerals which do not spike insulin levels. But the refined table sugar that we use is made up after a lot of chemical processing. It has no nutritional values and it is nothing but just empty calories.
Daily consumption of refined sugar not only increases the fat percentage in the body but also causes wrinkles, dark circles, acne, bad breath, bad teeth and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. [3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]
[Suggested Reading- How sugar is affecting our lives in a bad way?]
7 Healthier alternatives for sugar
- Jaggery and jaggery powder
Both jaggery and jaggery powder have been used in India since time immemorial. Talking about nutritional value jaggery and jaggery powder has more nutrients than any of the natural sweeteners available.
Jaggery is made from sugar cane juice but they are least processed. Jaggery is a natural blood purifier, boosts metabolism, detoxifies the liver and prevents constipation. If you are facing skin problems, replace sugar with jaggery and you will be surprised to see the results in just a matter of a few days. Jaggery is hot in nature while jaggery powder is cool. So jaggery is recommended in winter and jaggery powder in summer. However, both have the same benefits.
- Coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is derived from coconut palm trees without any extensive refining or use of any chemicals. As compared to refined sugar not only does coconut sugar get very easily digested by the body but it is also very rich in minerals like iron, potassium, zinc and calcium. Even the glycemic index of coconut sugar is much lower than that of refined sugar. The lower the glycemic index, the slower the sugar gets released in the body and the better it is.
Coconut sugar can be used in milk, curd, cakes, oatmeal and other breakfast cereals. You can easily buy coconut sugar online.
- Dates sugar
Dates sugar is derived from dates. One of the sweetest fruits available to us. Dates sugar is considered to be one of the healthiest alternatives for sugar and it is so easy to make that you can even do it at home. All you need to do is roast the dates, grind them and strain them to get a fine powder. Dates sugar is extremely rich in fibres and is loaded with a lot of vitamins and minerals. Using dates sugar helps in improving digestion, reduces bad cholesterol and increases bone density. The glycemic of dates is about 45-50 depending upon the variety of dates. Dates sugar can be added to milk, sweets and cereals.
- Rock sugar/ Mishri
We Indians have been using mishri for ages. After knowing it is exactly like regular sugar it has benefits and is highly versatile.
You will be surprised why we ever switch to refined sugar. Mishri is produced in the process of getting refined sugar just before it is chemically treated. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, dietary fibre and antioxidants.
It also greatly helps digestion and increases haemoglobin levels. Unlike refined sugar, it gives a cooling effect on the body. The best thing is that it can be used in almost everything you are currently putting in sugar, be it tea-coffee, milk, juices, desserts etc. Just make sure that you buy thread mishri and not the ones which are available in crystallised form as it is nothing but the bigger version of refined sugar.
Honey is the one food on the planet that has almost the same chemical composition as that of human blood. Due to this our body very easily assimilates 100% of the nutrients available in honey.
Also, any food when combined with honey gets digested better. Honey is an amazing alternative to sugar which is very high in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Honey is good for the heart, helps cut the extra fats from the body and improves mental alertness.
Honey can be applied on bread, in lemon water, milk etc.
Stevia is a zero-calorie natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Stevia is getting popular these days but it has been used in ayurvedic medicines for a long time with the name meethi tulsi.
The leaves of this plant are absolutely zero in calories and are naturally 25 times sweeter than regular sugar. So the weight-watchers and the calorie-conscious people can freely consume it. Since it has a zero glycemic index it does not spike the blood sugar levels at all. Stevia comes in many forms like dried leaves, sachets etc.
The only downside of stevia is that it leaves an aftertaste. If that does not bother you, do start using it today.
- Maple syrup
Maple syrup is a thick sugary liquid that is made by cooking down the SAP of maple trees. It contains a decent amount of minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese. Its high potassium and calcium content may benefit bone and heart health.
How much sugar should we consume in a day?
The American health association and several other associations have recommended not more than 30 gms of sugar per day for adults which comes down to not more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. Whereas the WHO recommends 10% of your energy intake or nearly 25g (5 spoons) a day.  This includes all added sugars that you add to your coffee, milkshakes, smoothies etc and even the added sugar in processed food.
Nowadays many people have switched to sugar-free, coke zero and other sugar-free foods considering them to be healthier alternatives to regular sugar. Such foods contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame potassium. These are in no way healthier alternatives and come with so many side effects so make sure that you do not fall for such marketing gimmicks.
Now you can enjoy being a sweet tooth without getting worried about your health.