The new year's here! And if you have resolved to have happy and healthy 2018, there is no better time to start today. And one healthy way forward could be cutting down on your sugar intake especially, the white, refined variety. Abundance of added sugar may cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, an important hormone that helps turn sugar in your bloodstream into energy. This may further impair your body's ability to control blood sugar levels and trigger diabetes. Excess sugars as such, do no good to the body. They go on to save as extra fat. Mumbai based nutritionist and consultant Jaydeep Bhuta says, "For a fitter body it is imperative to cut down on sugar and high calorific food. And while you are at it, make sure you steer clear of sugar based drinks too. We often tend to ignore the harm that liquid calories can cause, as we are so busy focusing on foods.
Meher and Shilpa both advocate against unnatural sugars and all the market-based sugary desserts that are full of these. " If you must have sugar, opt for the natural sugars, like stevia. You would be surprised, but you can whip up a delicious Gajar Ka Halwa using Stevia in place of regular white sugar. This can save you calories and make up for the sugar cravings too." You can also swap white sugar with palm sugar says Shilpa.
Here are 5 natural sugar alternatives you can swap your whit sugar with
1. Organic Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is definitely a healthier option than refined white sugar. It is processed in a completely natural way to maintain as much of the sugarcane's natural nutrition as possible, including vitamins and minerals. It has a caramel flavour and you can use this brown sugar to sweeten various hot beverages, or flavour desserts like candies, cakes and other bakery items.
2. Palm Sugar Crystals
Coconut or palm sugar is a sweetener that is extracted from the sap present in the flower buds of the coconut palm tree. It involves minimum processing and no chemicals are used. The sugar has a mild caramel flavour, and is used extensively in making desserts, especially Bengali sweets. It can be used in a number of ways in regular cooking. You can use as is or grind it to stir into your cup of tea.Coconut sugar has caught the attention of many of those who are health conscious because of its low fructose content and low glycemic index. It also contains traces of some minerals and antioxidants as compared to regular white sugar.
Native to South America, Stevia has taken the food world by storm for its naturally sweet taste and medicinal properties. According to the book 'Healing Foods' by DK Publishing, its leaves contain "glycoside" molecules, stevioside and rebaudioside, which are 300 times sweeter than refined sugar , and contain no calories. Stevia also doesn't raise blood sugar levels unlike thw white sugar or cause dental cavities.
But there are warnings on this one - some people have reported nausea and dizziness with excess consumption, those with low blood pressure run the risk of further decrease, and anyone allergic to ragweed, marigolds, chrysanthemums and daisies may find themselves suffering similar allergies to stevia as the herb is part of the same family.
Our very own gur or jaggery is one of the best and inexpensive form of natural sweetener we have access toMade by boiling concentrated sugar cane contents until it hardens, gur, as it is known in Hindi, is then rolled into patties or chopped into blocks. Nowadays one can also find it in the granulated form, similar to sugar, for those who wish to use it easily as a teatime sweetener.
Traditionally jaggery has been linked to boosting one's immunity and iron level, preventing constipation, detoxifying the liver, curing cough and cold, warming the body in winters, as well as being a source of energy.
5. Raw Honey
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