Sweeten without sugar
Almost all the food we eat every day contains sugar. Although most people know that sugar can cause various diseases as well as obesity and tooth decay, they often find it very difficult to give it up. Not least because they have not yet found a suitable alternative that sweetens food and drinks sufficiently. This should now come to an end. We give you an overview of the five most popular sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives.
Why is sugar unhealthy in the first place?
Excessive sugar consumption can cause symptoms such as listlessness, fatigue, stomach and intestinal problems, hair loss, lack of energy, sleep and concentration problems, but also nervousness. Because sugar fats our liver and cannot detoxify our body properly, blood levels rise and we gain weight. A chronically high insulin level cannot be ruled out if sugar consumption is permanently high. This can have a pro-inflammatory effect and cause chronic diseases. However, there are differences in sugar. While common household sugar is very harmful to the human organism, natural sugar such as fructose is much healthier and plays a particularly important role for the body in obtaining energy. It is not only the brain that needs sugar to remain functional, but also the muscles and our metabolism.
What alternatives are there to household sugar?
There are now numerous ways to sweeten drinks and meals without household white sugar. Here we present the five most popular alternatives.
Honey (per 100 g: 306 Kcal, 75 g carbohydrates; of which sugar: 74 g)
Honey is very popular because it can be used in so many ways. Whether in yoghurt, muesli, milk or tea - honey tastes good with almost everything. Because of its healing powers, it is also often called liquid gold. Not only does this food contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, but also cell-protecting antioxidants that support the cardiovascular system. Honey also has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect and thus helps with sore throats, for example. The sweetening power of honey is about 80% that of household sugar. Caution: Honey also contains both glucose and fructose. Therefore, honey can also be harmful if consumed in excess. Nevertheless, this natural sweetener is suitable for everyday sweetening as well as for one or the other sweet, because honey, in contrast to sugar, has some positive ingredients. However, you should bear in mind that some of these ingredients can be lost in foods with a temperature of more than 40°C.
Birch sugar - xylitol (per 100 g: 240 Kcal, 100 g carbohydrates; of which sugar: 0 g)
As the name suggests, xylitol or birch sugar is made from tree parts. Very often, birch sugar is made from corn dextrin and rarely from birch. The extraction of this sweetener is very complex. Xylitol has the same sweetening power as sugar and is used not only in food and drinks but also in baking. Although birch sugar tastes very similar to household sugar, it has much fewer calories. In addition, the sugar substitute only slightly affects the blood sugar level and has a caries-reducing and anti-inflammatory effect. However, with all the advantages, there is also a disadvantage. In addition to flatulence, xylitol can also cause diarrhoea. As a rule, however, the body quickly gets used to xylitol. Nevertheless, it is advisable to gradually introduce the body to the sugar substitute. Adults should not exceed the maximum daily dose of 150g.
Stevia (per 100 g: 0 Kcal, 0 g carbohydrates)
The sweetener stevia is produced naturally by the plant of the same name. Its sweetening power is up to 450 times stronger than that of industrially produced household sugar. In contrast to the latter, however, stevia is particularly tooth-friendly. It reduces the likelihood of tooth decay. For diabetics in particular, it is also interesting that the blood sugar level is not affected by stevia. The sugar substitute can be used to sweeten drinks and muesli, as well as to flavour hot and cold dishes. Stevia is also excellent for baking. It is important to note that the natural sweetener does not have the same baking properties as household sugar. If the dosage is too high or the product is of poor quality, stevia can have a liquorice-like bitter aftertaste. A recommended daily maximum of 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight should not be exceeded. Some manufacturers supplement their products with cheap fillers or even sugar. Therefore, when buying a stevia product, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients.
Coconut blossom sugar (per 100g: 380 Kcal, 94 g carbohydrates; of which sugar: 94 g)
This special type of sugar is extracted from coconut palm blossoms through a very complex manual process. Coconut blossom sugar contains many important antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc. The blood sugar level rises only slightly when the sweetener is consumed and the hormone insulin is also released only slowly. The blood sugar level drops just as slowly afterwards. Coconut blossom sugar has about the same sweetening power as white household sugar. The taste of the sugar substitute is more reminiscent of caramel than of coconut itself. Coconut blossom sugar is very suitable for cooking, sweetening hot drinks and desserts. When cooking, keep in mind that the sweetener dissolves at a very low rate. Many manufacturers of coconut blossom sugar stretch their products with cane sugar. So when buying, pay attention to the purity of the sugar. Although coconut blossom sugar scores high in terms of ingredients, the calorie content is comparable to that of table sugar.
Ripe fruits are also suitable for sweetening. Bananas, for example, not only provide the necessary sweetness, but also important minerals such as potassium and magnesium, as well as a large amount of energy. A banana has about 90 Kcal and 23 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. Dates, which are particularly easy to store, are available in a wide range of varieties. For example, there are very sweet or dry dates, but also some with a caramel flavour. They can be used in coffee, tea, cakes or desserts. Dates also contain important ingredients. These include vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and minerals. However, with a calorific value of 280 Kcal per 100 grams, dates are a rather high-calorie sugar alternative. There are about 75 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of dates. To sweeten with the small fruits, you can, for example, crush them with a fork or puree them with a blender and then mix them with the food.
Eating cakes, sweetened teas or desserts is also compatible with a healthy diet. The only thing that matters is the choice of sugar substitute. There is a wide range of plant-based and natural sweeteners, some of which even contain healthy ingredients and have a health-promoting effect. It is therefore advantageous to look into the individual sweeteners before completely giving up sweets and other treats.