Are you in love with refined sugar? Are you one of those who add two cubes of it to their beverage and then stealthily add an extra cube or two when no one is looking? Do you take one, two or more bottles of fizzy drink in a day? Do you pass off your fizzy drinks addiction as onu uto (sweet mouth)? If your answer to the first set of questions is yes, please, go ahead and answer the remaining three questions. Do you read labels of prepackaged foods before purchase? Are you aware of the fact that fizzy drinks and most processed foods contain a lot of added sugar?
While we are still on the topic, do you also know that the same added sugar that sweetens your mood will eventually take a toll on your health and cause diseases like diabetes? Oh yes, that sweet mouth of yours can cause health issues for you. So, you need to cut down your sugar intake. One way to do this is to replace the refined sugar in your diet with natural substitutes. These natural sweeteners provide sweetness to your food but they contain less food energy than refined sugar. Here are some natural sweeteners for you to consider:
1. Maple Syrup:Please note that maple syrup is different from maple-flavoured syrup. While the former is the natural sweetener derived from the sap of maple trees, the latter is a sugar bomb in disguise as it contains almost zero real maple sap. Maple syrup in its purest form is one of the most natural and unprocessed forms of sugar. It can successfully replace sugar in most recipes and it gives your favourite recipes the sweet boost it needs to shine. However, this sweetener should be used in moderation because of its high-calorie content.
2. Coconut Sugar:
This is a plant-based sweetener derived from the coconut palm tree. This sugar has a low fructose content and a low glycemic index; it also contains minerals like iron and zinc as well as inulin, a fibre that allegedly prevents blood sugar spikes. Health-conscious people love it as a result. Coconut sugar which has a mild caramel taste is used in some baking recipes as a substitute for sugar.
This is the ancestor in this list, the oldest replacement for sugar. Unfortunately, getting raw honey in Nigeria today is as difficult as a camel passing through the eye of a needle. That’s because dishonest honey vendors will sell their adulterated, processed honey to you as raw honey. But if you’re able to find raw honey, use it. It’s sweet and it’s one of the healthiest alternatives to sugar. It is used to sweeten teas, pap, and oats. It’s also used in some baking recipes. Honey equally has antibiotic properties; it’s used in traditional medicine for external and internal healing. So, even though honey is almost half fructose, it’s pretty awesome. However, it should not be given to children who are not up to one year.
4. Dates:This natural sweetener is gaining popularity by the day. Dates are the dried fruits of the date palm tree. They can be dehydrated and ground to make dates sugar or dates syrup. Dates fruit is rich in antioxidants; it also has high potassium content. A beginner will find the taste unusual but with regular intake, they’ll acquire the taste for it and may not want to go back to the commercial white sugar sold in the market.
This is a healthier sugar alternative for diabetics. Stevia is a plant extract that has little or no calories. It’s way sweeter than sugar; so, all you need is a little amount to provide sweetness. Stevia extract is relatively stable in heat and so can be used in baking. Despite its terrific qualities, stevia extract has a noticeable aftertaste. As a result, most people do not enjoy using it to sweeten their beverages.
6. Organic Brown Sugar:
This is another healthy alternative to regular sugar. Even though it’s processed, it is made in a natural way so most of its original sugarcane nutrition is retained. Organic brown sugar can be used to sweeten beverages, baked goods and desserts.
In conclusion, replacing the refined sugar in your diet with these natural sweeteners will help you cut down your refined sugar intake and stay healthy.
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