Sugar cravings and temptations happen to everyone! Every once in a while, you might have a midnight craving for chocolate cake or would want a sweet dish to satiate your craving for sugar after a good meal. Most of the times when this happens, we eat whatever we feel like eating without thinking of how that product or dish. However, that is not the right way to go. Especially, when it comes to sugar.
The sugar that we consume in our day to day life is known processed or refined sugar. Processed sugar is a processed carbohydrate that is prepared through the industrial process of refining of sugar, in which the coloured products and impurities are removed from it.
While eating anything in excess is bad for our health, eating processed sugar even on a daily basis in regular but non excessive amounts can be extremely bad for us.
Why You Should Avoid Sugar?
Here are a few diseases and disorders processed sugar can lead to and why we should avoid it:
- First of all – refined sugar provides the body with empty calories: calories without any other nutrient, vitamin or mineral. Being rich in carbs and calories, sugar provides instant energy to the body, burns through them quickly and leaves your body asking for more fuel sources.
This leads to further consumption which can lead to issues such as diabetes, obesity, cancer and other related disorders.
- Sugar can be extremely addictive. Some studies show that sugars are as addictive as cocaine. This possible excessive consumption is not at all good for the body as it causes a number of health hazards including obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, acne, wrinkles and accelerated aging.
- Sugar intake increases your chances of getting cancer. By promoting obesity and insulin levels, sugar directly puts the body at a higher risk for caner. Pancreatic cancer is the most common in this case.
- Sugar has a direct effect on the health of our heart. High intake of sugar increases the risk of heart disease by increasing the blood sugar levels in the body and lowering protective HDL-cholesterol levels.
- It is no unknown fact that a diet with a high sugar content is associated with obesity and increased body mass ratios. Sugar consumption, directly or indirectly, can lead to overweight conditions among people which if not checked can lead to obesity.
- Sugar affects the liver. High sugar intake can cause severe liver damage by changing the texture of the liver and affecting insulin levels.
- Sugar can cause dental problems such as cavities, and bad breath.
- Increased consumption of sugar can lead to kidney stones.
- Increased sugar consumption leads to acne, pimples and wrinkles.
- A diet high in sugar lacks in many vitamins and minerals needed by the body.
- Sugar can cause inflammation.
So, what can we do?
Our body needs a certain amount of sugar in its system to be able to function properly, therefore completely eliminating sugar from our diet is neither feasible nor healthy. In fact, lack of sugar in the body can cause psychological imbalances and make us extremely cranky and low through out the day. So, what is the solution?
The solution is simple. If we replace the consumption of refined sugar, with more natural and unprocessed sources of sugar in our diet for our consumption, we can create a good balance between giving the body the minimum amount of sugar it needs without increasing chances of any disorders or diseases that maybe associated with it.
Healthy Substitutes for Processed Sugar
Here is a list of healthy alternatives to sugar, one can switch to:
- Stevia – Probably the healthiest alternative to sugar, stevia is 100% naturally obtained. It has no calories, it has been known to lower sugar levels of the blood and blood pressure levels and has no adverse effects on our health.
- Maple syrup – It is high in antioxidants and can be obtained naturally. It is better than regular sugar but one should not consume it excessively.
- Raisins – You can blend a cup of raisins in a food mixer and add them to any baked goods for adding sweetness naturally.
- Honey – Honey is packed with antioxidants and makes for a great alterative as it can be obtained naturally and is not too sweet. As a bonus, honey never goes bad!
- Jaggery – It is an extremely healthy alternative to sugar. It also helps improve digestion, acts as a cleansing agent, avoid constipation and is rich in minerals.
- Fruits – Fruits contain natural sugars and are great sources of many vitamins and minerals. They provide for an extremely healthy alternative and can be eaten in between, before or after meals or even when you feel snacky!
- Cinnamon – One of the best things about cinnamon is that it is calorie free! You can add this to milkshakes or coffee for a subtle sweetness. It also boosts immunity.
- Applesauce – You can either purchase the one with no added sugar or make some naturally at home! It has natural sweetness and is unprocessed.
- Blending fruits – Instead of directly consuming fruits, mixing them in a food processor can be used to make a paste or puree, which can then be added to other food items. Fruits that can be used for this are grapefruits, bananas, apricots, dates etc.
- Coconut Sugar – This type of sugar is extremely organic and can used in fruits smoothies. It is also loaded with potassium – which makes bones healthier!
- Rum – Alcohols like rum can be used for caramelizing fruits that can later be added to sweeten pancakes or unsweetened yogurts.
- Yacon Syrup – It is considered to be a weight loss supplement and also feeds the healthy gut in the stomach which maintains overall health.
- Sugar alcohols – These consist of xylitol and erythritol. They have few calories and resemble sugar in their taste, which makes the transition easier. Their consumption should be regulated though.
- Agave nectar – This a popular choice, however, not the best or healthiest option when it comes calorie content.
- Brown rice syrup – This particular syrup is extremely easy to digest and can be used to make healthy granola bars.