What’s more Indian than finding solace and joy in a cup of piping hot chai with two spoonfuls of sugar every evening?
Or take sweets, for that matter. Is any occasion complete without the sugary rush of all things sweet? It goes without saying that we, as a culture, have a sweet tooth – but studies in the last decade have documented that sugar can have debilitating long term effects on the body.
Doctors often talk about learning to live without sugar, but it’s hard, takes time and effort, and involves a lot of deliberate caution. The second best thing is to find better alternatives to white sugar.
The Indian market is booming with healthy sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners that can help you do this. Each of these substitutes has its pros and cons and requires thorough research before trying out.
Why should you replace sugar?
You don’t have to wait till you are diabetic to quit sugar. It is one of those products that is best avoided, to lead a healthy life. Consuming large amounts of sugary food can lead to weight gain, affect your blood glucose and even make your body more vulnerable to heart disease.
Sugar is also one of the products that can create dependency through continued use. Like all addictions, a sweet tooth can turn quickly turn from a happy indulgence to a harmful vice.
While artificial sweeteners may not taste exactly the same as sugar, they can appease your cravings, without all the calories, or affecting your vitals as much. Even among the sugar substitutes, there are good and bad ones. Choose your sweetener wisely – whether you go for sucralose or stevia.
Where can you use these sweeteners?
Most people love to use sugar in their daily coffee/tea or in their desserts. For a lot of people, these items do not taste the same without the hint of sweetness to them. Try to appease all your cravings at home, whether it is coffee, juices, milkshakes, sweets, or everyday cooking. You will have more control over what goes into your body and you can use your favourite artificial sweetener over sugar. And if you are dining out, remember to carry your sweetener with you, so that you can use it, when needed.
Which sweetener should you use?
Forget about what people say is the best or worst sweetener. Research deeply into each of them and choose one that best serves your purpose and needs – Whether you’d want something more natural like agave to sweeten your smoothies, or use saccharine to make sugar-free baked goods. But no matter what you choose, remember to use them in moderation and not go overboard.
To help you get started on your no sugar journey, here is a comprehensive list of sweeteners to help you choose the ideal sugar substitute.
Stevia is considered one of the most trusted and popular forms of sugar substitutes in current times. Its popularity is due to its natural origins. It is made by extracting the Stevia Rebaudiana leaf. Stevia, unlike many other artificial sweeteners, does not need any additional preservatives to improve its shelf life.
If you have diabetes or are fighting obesity, then stevia is the healthiest option in the market. There are a number of name brand stevia products in the Indian market, which can be found in bigger supermarkets or can easily be purchased online.
- Has low or almost no calories
- Made purely from natural substances
- No-detected side effects
- No flaky after-tase
- Reduces blood glucose
- Discernable aftertaste
- Causes calorie deficit
- Digestive issues in certain body types
Sucralose is the most popular sugar substitute in India. It gives a more potent sweetness than sugar but only has very little calories. A lot of people swear by it when looking to control their diabetes or to lose weight. They are also more affordable since they are lab-made. This product is a derivative of sugar and obtained when natural sugar is treated. It can be used in everything from beverages to cooking.
- Helps in weight loss
- No reproductive or neurological side-effects
- Affordable cost
- Easy to source and buy
- Used for baking and cooking
- May cause diarrhoea or other gastric problems
- Very sweet when compared to natural sugar
- Possibility of an allergic reaction
This is an artificial sweetener derived from amino acids. It is used in a lot of readily available sugar-free products. Aspartame is ideally used in baked foods or beverages that have to be stored.
The downside of this product is that it is not easily available for personal usage. But a keen eye and some online research skills will help you find it. Aspartame has come under controversies for some negative effects but the analysis of the same has come out as inconclusive. If consumed in moderate quantities, it can be an ideal sugar substitute.
- Negligible calorie count
- Minimal dental corrosion when compared to sugar
- Ideal for baking
- Less sweet when compared to sucralose
- Long-term use may lead to dizziness, nausea, or mental distress
- Excessive use may cause genetic disturbance
A natural sweetener that is often used in the syrup form, Agave is made from the same source as tequila. In all the places where you would use syrup or honey, agave can be used. It is especially used with toasts, pancakes and waffles.
Agave, however, cannot be considered a complete sugar substitute as it is still high in fructose content. It is best to use it occasionally and not on the regular.
- Naturally sourced
- Easy to store and buy
- No fluctuation in blood sugar levels
- High in antioxidants
- High fructose
- Possibility of causing liver disease or increasing cholesterol.
After sucralose, saccharin is one of the most used forms of artificial sweeteners. It is not as potent as many of the other sugar substitutes available in the market and doesn’t have an overpowering aftertaste. It is very low in calorie and thus makes for a great addition to a weight loss diet.
Saccharine does not trigger insulin release, thus reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes. Diabetes patients or those who are trying to lose weight can continue to enjoy certain food or drink by replacing sugar with saccharin. However, a lot of people find the after taste of Saccharine to be unpalatable.
- Zero calories
- Long shelf-life
- Easy to blend in all liquids
- Readily available
- Unpalatable ftertaste
- Not suitable for children or pregnant women
- Possible allergic reaction in some people.
Too much of even good things can be bad; keep this in mind when switching to artificial sweeteners. Make sure to talk to your doctor or nutritionist when deciding which sweetener to depend on. You should also do extensive research and maybe even a few trials and errors before finding the perfect artificial sweetener for you. But your body will definitely thank you for kicking your white sugar habit.
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