Sugar is one of the most ambiguous food types out there, with plenty of confusion surrounding which sugars are bad and whether you can truly have a ‘good sugar’. Though sugar seems like a guilty pleasure, there are in fact some great alternatives which are just as sweet and have far less negative effects on our bodies. I apply the rule that I do with all foods, the least processed the better and always consume in moderation. In this article I would like to tell you all how you can have that sweetness in your diet without the guilt.
What to Watch Out for in Sugar
The really important factor to consider when choosing a sugar, a sugar based alternative or a sweetener is the Glycemic Index (GI). This index informs us about how our bodies digest and process the sugars we consume. A sugar, or substitute with, a low Glycemic Index is far better for you as your body will absorb the sugar slowly, avoiding those sugar highs and crashes, which will give you a more balanced energy. Additionally, when I look at sugars and their substitutes I don’t just think about which one is the least unhealthy, I try to pick alternatives which actually offer benefits, such as Stevia and SugaVida.
Three of My Favourite Alternatives:
Honey is nature’s sweetener; it is produced naturally and locally throughout the UK and the world. Honey is much sweeter than sugar and therefore smaller amounts are needed to give sufficient sweetness in a recipe or stirred into a drink. When it comes to honey it really is crucial to go for quality, organic brands. These are more sustainable and less processed, furthermore if you buy local honey it can help reduce your hayfever symptoms. Manuka honey, from New Zealand, is a powerful and raw natural source of sweetness with additional benefits. Manuka honey has antibacterial qualities and works wonders for the immune system as well as supporting gut issues and sore throats. There are different levels of manuka factor, and be aware that raw manuka honey is rather expensive and cheap forms aren’t likely to be rich in this honey.
Stevia or ‘the honey flower’ as it is known as by the indigenous peoples of Paraguay and Brazil from where it originates, has been used for some 1,500 years. It comes in different forms as a liquid, tablet or a powder which gives it that versatility; you can stir it into your tea or whisk it into a cake mixture. Stevia is around 300 times sweeter than sugar and therefore need only be used in small amounts. As it is not a sugar based product it has a GI of 0, this means that it won’t rot your teeth and contains no calories. Unlike sugar, stevia has no negative impact on the body. Watch out for processed stevia, it is raw stevia which is the type you need to be using.
SugaVida is an ethically sourced sugar alternative with some great health benefits, it is relatively new to the market and sure to take off! SugaVida is an organic palmera tree blossom sugar, it is low in calories and has a low Glycemic Index. Due to its low GI our bodies can break down this sugar alternative naturally and slowly, providing us with that much needed slow-energy release. This alternative is a great source of Vitamin B complex; it therefore contributes to the natural process of energy production in the body, leaving us feeling invigorated. SugaVida is rich in Vitamin B12, which improves the health of our nerve and blood cells as well as being a source of iron which helps the body transport oxygen and reduces tiredness. So as you can see, this alternative really packs a punch!
Did you know there are 60 different names for sugar? So when you are looking through ingredients look out for these, as some foods may contain multiple types of sugar and end up being a really sweet product, view list below: