Even preschool children know that sugar is bad. But only a few are able to become ascetics who have almost completely excluded sweet foods from the diet. But no one forces you to abandon the familiar and tasty, even when losing weight: there are useful or at least less harmful sugar substitutes. Natural and artificial substitutes include honey, stevia, maple syrup with dextrose, etc.
What is sugar and what is its effect on the body?
Sugar is the common name for sucrose. It refers to carbohydrates that give the body energy. In the digestive tract, sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose.
In crystalline form, sugar is produced from sugar cane and sugar beet. Both products are brown in unrefined form. Refined sugar is distinguished by a white tint and purification from impurities.
Why are people so attracted to sweets? Glucose stimulates the synthesis of serotonin, the hormone of joy. Therefore, many are attracted to chocolates and sweets in stressful situations – it is easier to cope with emotional turmoil with them. In addition, glucose helps neutralize the negative effects of toxins.
This is where the positive effect of white sugar ends. But there is a whole list of negative aspects associated with the excessive use of this product:
- metabolic disorders;
- decreased immunity;
- increased risk of becoming a victim of cardiovascular disease;
- increased risk of developing diabetes mellitus;
- problems with teeth and gums;
- deficiency of vitamin B;
an increase in the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
In addition to the above, sugar consumption negatively affects the appearance and condition of the skin.
Sugar is like drugs. The nervous system quickly gets used to sweets and it is very difficult to give up the usual doses of the product. This means that you need to seek help from substitutes.
What can replace white sugar?
There are many alternatives to sugar. Not all options are created equal. But in any case, with the help of substitutes, you can reduce the harm done to the body.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about replacing refined sugar is honey. In fact, this is by no means a perfect alternative. Unlike the “white death”, the bee product contains useful substances – vitamins C and B, iron, potassium and many other microelements. Honey copes well with viruses and bacteria, so it is used in the fight against diseases.
This is how it should be treated – like a medicine. The fact that honey “producers” are bees does not make the product any less sweet and harmful. The average percentage of sugar in honey is 70%. The amount can be up to 85%. In other words, a teaspoon of honey (with a conditional slide) in this sense is approximately equal to a teaspoon of sugar without a slide.
In addition, the amber product is caloric. Those who want to lose weight should limit themselves to it. The conclusion is that by using honey, we get considerable benefit, but we cannot completely avoid harm.
Many nutritionists believe that stevia is the best sugar substitute. The leaves of the plant are very sweet, although their consumption is not reflected by a spike in blood glucose. A huge plus of this option is the absence of side effects. Stevia is successfully used in the production of baby food – it is completely safe.
But there are still drawbacks. A useful sugar substitute takes habit. The plant has a characteristic flavor, and if you eat too many leaves, you may encounter bitterness. Finding your dosage will take some experimentation.
In addition, this plant is not easy for confectioners to work with. Stevia can sweeten baked goods, but it also makes them too bulky. But with tea or coffee, the leaves are combined perfectly.
To replace a teaspoon of sugar, you need:
- a quarter teaspoon of ground plant leaves;
- stevioside on the tip of a knife;
- 2-6 drops of liquid extract.
3- Agave syrup
Agave is higher in calories than sugar. Overuse of syrup leads to an excess of cholesterol. And yet this substitute is more useful than the original. Agave is characterized by a low glycemic index – unlike sugar, the product is absorbed slowly by the body. The syrup is great for vegetarians, as 9/10 consists of fructose.
For baking, this is also not an option. But the product is combined with drinks perfectly. In the form of syrup, you can drink agave, but only diluted with water. 100 g of agave contains 60-70 g of sugar. That is, in one and a half tsp. nectar is about a spoonful of refined sugar.
4- Maple syrup
Unlike North America, it is unpopular with us. The cost of the product also does not contribute to its distribution in our latitudes. But this is exactly the case when it is worth overpaying. Pros of syrup:
- instead of a little useful sucrose, “maple” contains its alternative – dextrose;
- a large amount of polyphenols and antioxidants: syrup is used as a preventive and therapeutic agent – it helps to fight cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.;
- a large amount of minerals;
- the glycemic index is the same as that of honey, but, unlike the latter, maple nectar has almost no contraindications.
The product can be used in the preparation of any kind of food. It does not lose its properties during heat treatment. True, most Russians will have to get used to the caramel-woody flavor of the syrup.
The proportions of relatively refined sugar in this case are about the same as that of agave syrup.
5- Artificial sweeteners
Synthetic substitutes for the body have no value, except psychological. None of them are fully absorbed. The sweet taste of artificial alternatives leads to a reflex – the body expects the intake of carbohydrates. “Guessing” that he was deceived, he will demand normal food – hunger appears. Therefore, losing weight, counting on the lack of calories, must weigh the pros and cons well.
Features of some substitutes:
- saccharin – contains carcinogens and can harm the digestive tract;
- aspartame – leads to increased heart rate, headaches, food poisoning;
- cyclamate – a good help in the fight against body fat, but it can cause renal failure;
- sucrasite – contains toxins.
Artificial substitute for sugar is tens and hundreds of times sweeter than the original table. Therefore, when using these options, we are talking about milligrams.
6- Sugar alcohols
Another name is polyols. They belong to a special category of sugary substances. Essentially a low calorie sweetener, polyols are chemically alcohols.
Benefits for the body:
- low amount of calories;
- slow and incomplete assimilation – the likelihood of body fat is small;
- a good alternative to refined sugar for diabetics – almost no insulin is needed for the absorption of polyols.
Sugar alcohols are found naturally in vegetables, berries and fruits. In artificial – in many food products (from ice cream to chewing gum), in some medicines, hygiene products.
Polyols are almost completely safe. They are even added to mouth rinses – the ingredients do not cause tooth decay. And the sweetness of alcohols is variable – within 25-100% of the sweetness of white sugar. In many cases, manufacturers combine alcohols with synthetic substitutes such as saccharin or aspartame to obtain a brighter taste.
Fructose is one of the components of sugar. Like glucose, it is a monosaccharide. The main feature of fructose is its relatively slow absorption, but rapid breakdown by the intestines. The substance is obtained from honey, fruits and berries.
The advantages of this option:
- low calorie content;
- the possibility of use by diabetics and people prone to gaining excess weight;
- no negative impact on the teeth;
energy value – fructose is “prescribed” for athletes and people whose work is associated with increased physical activity.
Fructose is also indicated for pregnant women. The substance is able to neutralize to some extent the characteristic unpleasant symptoms – nausea, vomiting, dizziness.
The daily norm of the component is 20-30 g. Abuse can provoke the appearance of a number of diseases. In terms of the ratio of fructose to white sugar, the monosaccharide is approximately twice as sweet. To replace tsp. refined sugar requires half a spoonful of fructose.
8- Cane sugar
The brown analogue of white refined sugar is made from sugar cane. The energy value of the usual beet sugar and cane sugar are the same. If we compare the degree of sweetness, then it is also the same. But in both cases, it can vary within certain limits – depending on the size of the crystals and other factors.
The benefits of “cane” are the presence of a number of minerals and elements that are not present in a refined product. Thanks to this, cane sugar helps to regulate metabolism, strengthen bone tissue, and normalize the functioning of the digestive tract, circulatory and nervous systems.
The scope of application of brown sugar is extensive – it is used with might and main in the preparation of confectionery products designed for a beneficial effect. But you need to beware of fakes – an ordinary dyed beet product is often found on sale.
9- Dried fruits and fruits
Fruit is a natural source of sugar. The table shows the amount of sugar in fruits:
Fruit / berry Amount of sugar (g / 100 g of fruit)
- Dates 69.2
- Pomegranate 16.5
- Grapes 16.2
- Bananas 12.2
- Cherry, sweet cherry 11.5
- Tangerines 10.5
- Apples 10.4
- Plums 9.9
- Pears 9.8
- Oranges 9.35
- Pineapple 9.25
- Apricots 9.2
- Kiwi 8.9
- Peaches 8.4
- Gooseberry 8.1
- Melon 8.1
- Red and white currants 7.3
- Grapefruit 6.9
- Watermelon 6.2
- Raspberry 5.7
- Strawberry 4.6
- Lemon 2.5
- Dried fruit Amount of sugar (g / 100 g of fruit)
- Dates 65
- Raisins 59
- Dried apricots 53
- Fig 48
- Prunes 38
What options would be most helpful
The best substitute for natural sugar is fruits, berries and dried fruits. Nature has tried to ensure that we receive the necessary elements ready-made. Moreover, natural gifts contain substances that partially neutralize the harmful effects of “sweets”.
Stevia leaves are a good option as a sweetener. The plant can be grown on your windowsill. It is convenient for confectioners to replace refined sugar with maple syrup. Those who are in a special risk zone – diabetics, will benefit from fructose. Like stevia, agave syrup is convenient for sweetening drinks. Honey is traditionally used as a medicine. But a small amount of bee product is useful.
Other options are recommended to be used as appropriate. In any case, even when it comes to fruit, gluttony should be avoided. Otherwise, the benefits of alternatives will sooner or later turn into negative.