6 healthy substitutes for white sugar

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For most of us a meal is not complete without a dessert. However, the white sugar added to these desserts can lead to a variety of health conditions such as an increase in blood sugar levels, heart disease, and weight gain. The best way of keeping our blood sugar levels constant is to cut down on processed sugar and substitute it with natural sugars from fruits and honey. 

Renowned nutritionist Naini Setalvad suggests various healthy substitutes you can use instead of consuming white sugar.

One of the main reasons we crave sugar is when our body is in imbalance; but eating white sugar is not the answer.  Substitute white sugar with organic jaggery,sugarcane juice, grapes, honey and dried (dates, raisins, apricots) and fresh fruits. These are not only delicious substitutes for white sugar but are also extremely healthy. Here are their benefits:

HONEY

Honey is a healthy substitute for white sugar. It strengthens the heart, prevents cold, cough and fever and purifies blood. Being alkaline in nature, it does not produce acidity or gas. People with high BP problem should have honey as acetylcholine present in honey increases blood flow to the heart thereby decreasing blood pressure.

How to use: Honey easily dissolves in liquids so one can add it to their beverages instead of adding sugar and also sweeten their desserts with it. 

DRY FRUITS

These include fruits which have beendried. The most popular ones are dates (khajur), raisins (kishmish), figs (anjeer) and prunes (sukhaalubukhara).

Dates are an excellent source of potassium, iron, and vitamin B apart from being high in fibre. You can make khajur chutney or date sauce if you do not want to eat it raw. 

For those who wish to sweeten their food with sugar, simply toss a few raisins in it instead. These are succulent, sweet and even contain the nutrients of grapes.

If you suffer from digestive problems, eat dry figs. They’re great for those battling asthma and even a regular cough and cold as they are mucus-drying.

Prunes have a low glycemic index (GI) and are rich in fibre which helps maintain a healthy digestive system.

Dry fruits can come to your rescue when you have a strong sugar craving. They can also be added to food in place of sugar for sweetening, especiallysabzisordals, when they need to be slightly sweet. 

SUGARCANE JUICE

Although white sugar is made from sugarcane, the refining process removes many useful nutrients. Sugarcane juice contains vitamins B and C and is rich in organic salts of calcium, iron and manganese. It is recommended for people suffering from anemia and jaundice and is a refreshing beverage. My recommendation is to have natural, fresh sugarcane juice without adding ginger, lemon or mint for flavor. 

JAGGERY

Often called ‘medicinal sugar’, it is useful for curing problems like cough, constipation and indigestion and has a high mineral content ensuring that we get our micronutrients.Jaggeryis the closest substitute for sugar when it comes to usage. It can be used exactly like sugar. You getjaggeryin powder form, solid form and even liquid form. You can sweetenchikkisand other Indian sweets usingjaggerywhich make excellent dessert options. It can even be used in dals, vegetables and curries which need to be slightly sweetened.

FRUITS

It is better to fulfill your sugar requirements from fruits like mangoes oranges, banana, carrots, beets, papaya, apple, watermelon etc. The sugar in them is in less concentrated form and hence doesn’t increase blood sugar level that drastically. Fruits are delectable, sweet and have zero fat. 

STEVIA

Stevia (Meethipatti), a South American herb known to lower elevated blood pressure (hypertension), is a digestive aid which reduces gas and stomach acidity, and prevents obesity. It has low calories and is also known to guard against gum and tooth decay. Stevia, in fact, is the only sweetener that I would recommend for diabetics. It is easily available in India under different brand names. One such is So Sweet and another is Dr Shugar. These are available as powders which can be added to your food and beverages to sweeten them. Do note that some forms of Stevia cannot be cooked, so only add them after you’re done with your cooking.

Include these healthy alternatives to white sugar in your daily diet and march your way to a fit life.

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