Healthy Sugar Alternatives for your Food and Drinks
The world is now on a mission to find healthy sugar alternatives to add to their food and beverages. So, healthy sugar alternatives are substitutional ingredients that add a sweet taste but cause a minimum negative impact on health and which can improve health while being consumed. Sugar is an inseparable part of the food we consume. But too much sugar is not ideal for our teeth and waistline. There have been some controversial suggestions that excessive sugar may play an important role in certain degenerative diseases.
Sugars are caloric, sweet-tasting compounds that occur widely in nature, including fruits, vegetables, honey, and human and dairy milk. Humans are born with the desire or preference for sweet taste.
The presence of lactose, a type of naturally occurring sugar in breast milk helps ensure that this primary source of nutrition for infants is palatable and acceptable. Chemically and concerning foods, sugars are monosaccharide or disaccharide carbohydrates, which impart a sweet taste. Most foods contain some of each.
When it comes to sugars, there are mainly two different types. Natural sugars and synthetic sugars.
Natural sugars (mono- and disaccharides) consist of glucose, lactose, fructose and sucrose mainly. Among them sucrose is the most popular form of natural sugars which is extracted from different frits and vegetables, which is added to many sugary foods and beverages commonly.
However, it is now well known that excess consumption of sugar leads to many chronic non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammation, and more.
Synthetic sugars are produced commercially. For example, sucrose (table sugar) is produced from sugar cane and sugar beets; brown sugar, molasses, and cane sugar are produced from sugar cane; and corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are produced from corn starch. Other sources of sugar include maple syrup, malt syrup, agave syrup, and fruit juice concentrates.
These synthetic sugars usually have less food energy. So, less calorie intake is there. Yet there are negative impacts.
Besides its benefits, animal studies have convincingly proven that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain, brain tumors, bladder cancer, and many other health hazards. Some kind of health-related side effects including carcinogenicity is also noted in humans.
Healthy sugar alternatives
So, both natural and artificial sugars have negative effects on our health. However, there are natural sugar alternatives. There are many types of processed fruit that taste sweet and can be used as an ingredient in product formulations.
A common example is dried fruit, which is naturally sweeter than fresh fruit. Dates are particularly popular as a natural sweetener. More and more often, products such as date sugar, date paste, and date syrup are used as natural sweeteners. Dates are replacing the need for artificial additives. This is making ingredient labels clearer.
Other healthy sugar alternatives
Other than that, some natural sugar alternatives would be Stevia which is a natural sweetener that’s derived from the leaves of the South American shrub Stevia rebaudiana, Sugar alcohol, which is a type of carbohydrate naturally found in fruits and vegetables, Monk fruit sweetener is obtained from the Siraitia grosvenorii plant, which is native to China and Honey which is a thick, golden liquid produced by honeybees. It contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, as well as an abundance of plant compounds that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
In Sri Lanka, the infamous healthy sugar alternative would be jaggery. All these can be added to your food and drinks accordingly to produce the all-desired sweet taste while reducing health implications that usually come with sugar and giving a boost to your health.