Replace sugar with these natural and low-calorie substitutes
Adding sugar is like inviting dangerous diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It contains no protein, essential fats, vitamins or minerals. There really is no need for it in the diet. Sugar interferes with hormones in your body that regulate hunger and satiety. This can lead to increased calorie intake and weight gain.
Stevia comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which is a member of the chrysanthemum family, a subgroup of the Asteraceae family. It is extracted from the highly refined stevia leaf extract called rebaudioside A (Reb-A). Reb-A is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The Reb-A sweeteners are the mixture of dextrose and erythritol. It is available in the granulated form, liquid form and in the powdered form. Stevia is a non-nutritive sugar thus contains zero calories. It is the best option for the people with diabetes, it lowers the amount of blood sugar level and insulin level. Some of the studies also show that stevia lowers the level of bad cholesterol (LDL and chylomicrons) and increase the level of good cholesterol (HDL). Some research conducted on effects of stevia on cancerous cell has shown positive results that means- a glycoside known as “stevioside” found in stevia plants helps boost cancer cell death in a human breast cancer line. Stevioside may also help decrease some mitochondrial pathways that help cancer grow. Thus stevia becomes one of the ideal natural and low-calorie substitutes.
Xylitol is a hybrid of sugar and alcohol molecule, this structure gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. Xylitol is found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables and is therefore considered natural. Humans even produce small amounts of it via normal metabolism. Xylitol taste is similar to table sugar but contains 40% lesser calories compared to the tale sugar. It refined sugar thus zero calories. It has a very low glycemic index that is only 7 whereas the glycemic index of table sugar is around 60 to 70%. For people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity or other metabolic problems, xylitol is one of the excellent natural and low-calorie substitutes. Not only beneficial for maintaining blood sugar level it is also recommended for the oral health, this is because numerous studies show that xylitol has powerful benefits for dental health and prevention of tooth decay.
Erythritol also belongs to the sugar alcohol category and one of the natural and low-calorie substitutes as erythritol provides 0.24 calories per gram whereas sugar has 4 calories per gram. Which make it only 7% of calories with compared to the sugar with 70% sweetness. Our body does not contain an enzyme to breakdown erythritol. It gets absorbed into the bloodstream and is then excreted unchanged in the urine. When healthy people are given erythritol, there is no change in blood sugar or insulin levels. There is also no effect on cholesterol, triglycerides or other biomarkers. For people who are overweight, with diabetes or other issues related to the metabolic syndrome, erythritol appears to be an excellent alternative to sugar.
4. Yacon Syrup-
Yacon syrup is extracted from the yacón plant, which is native to South America and known scientifically as Smallanthus sonchifolius. It is similar to molasses. A small study found that yacon syrup caused significant weight loss in overweight women, more research is needed to validate this claim. Yacon syrup contains 40–50% fructooligosaccharides, which are a special type of sugar molecule that the human body cannot digest. Because these sugar molecules are not digested, yacon syrup contains one-third of the calories of regular sugar or about 1.3 calories per gram. It also decreases the level of ghrelin- a hunger hormone. It promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which directly or indirectly linked to a decreased risk of diabetes and obesity, improved immunity and better brain function. Yacon syrup is generally considered safe, but eating large amounts of it may lead to excess gas, diarrhea or general digestive discomfort. Another downside to yacon syrup is that you cannot cook or bake with it, as high temperatures break down the structure of the fructooligosaccharides.
5. Date Sugar-
Date sugar isn’t an extract but simply dried dates ground into fine powder. It has the nutrients of whole dates including potassium, calcium, and other antioxidants. With respect to other natural sweeteners, date sugar has higher antioxidant content– approximately 500-600 times more as compared to table sugar. It also contains fewer calories than table sugar, and while its GI is unknown it’s likely close to that of whole dates and lower than table sugar thus making it a suitable white sugar replacement for weight watchers.
6. Agave nectar-
Agave nectar produced from the agave plant. Agave is a popular natural sweetener because it is believed to have a lower glycemic index (GI) than table sugar or honey. The glycemic index of agave nectar is around 20 to 30, while regular sugar has a GI of 60 to 65. Foods that have a lower glycemic index tend to raise blood sugars at a slower pace. When compared to sugar, one tablespoon of agave nectar contains about 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar. The same amount of granulated sugar contains about 45 calories and 12 grams of sugar. Therefore, using agave as one of the natural and low-calorie substitutes. But you should use less because agave tends to taste sweeter than sugar. For example, if you replaced one tablespoon of sugar with one teaspoon of agave, you’d save 30 calories and 8 grams of sugar. Agave nectar contains 70% of fructose.