From canned juices to cupcakes to chocolates to ice creams, most things that we love are filled with sugar. But do we realise that anything prepared from white sugar means high blood sugar levels, ’empty’ calories and zero nutritive value?
According to estimates, diabetes has affected over 422 million individuals worldwide. Diabetes, a chronic condition, can lead to various other issues, such as heart disease, tooth issues, headaches, weight gain and blood pressure, among other lifestyle conditions. It has also recently been recognized as a high-risk factor that can make a person vulnerable to complications due to an infection such as COVID-19, health experts claim.
To keep their condition under control, sugar is one of the many food items that people living with diabetes must avoid. However, one can fulfill their sweet cravings with the availability of safe alternatives. These replacements can be preferred occasionally in consultation with your treating doctor, as each ingredient can function differently for each person.
Raw or forest honey is among one of the world’s most popular natural sweeteners. With decent levels of vitamin B6, enzymes, zinc, iron, potassium calcium, antioxidants, phosphorus, niacin and riboflavin, it is not just a sweetener but also a great health food. These nutrients are collectively capable of activating healthy microbes that are present in the gastrointestinal tract. As processed honey loses much of the nutrients during the pasteurization process and offers very little benefits, it must be noted that it has to be completely unprocessed. The darker raw honey is richer in flavor as well.
There is a good explanation as to why, since ancient times, dates have been a favorite. They contain a lot of magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese and iron. The consumption of dates can reduce cholesterol level in the blood, and help in the absorption of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Dates reduce the risk of stroke and are easily digestible.
For centuries, this plant has been used in beverages as a natural sweetener. The sweetener is extracted from the plant’s leaves. It has the potential to promote weight loss. It is so strong that it is deemed to be approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and can be used in the form of liquid droplets, baking mixes, sachets and dissolvable tablets. There are also no side effects, such as calories or carbohydrates.
Coconut is known for its diverse benefits and uses, the latest addition to which is coconut sugar. This highly delicious natural sweetener is gaining popularity due to its low glucose content and richness of minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and antioxidants etc. Coconut is found in abundance in almost all parts of the world which makes it an even better option.
Bananas are rich sources of fibre and potassium as well as vitamins B6 and C. They are very sweet and banana paste is used as a popular natural sweetener in traditional foods and sweet dishes.
This has become an extremely popular global natural sweetener now. The syrup is highly nutritious and contains manganese, antioxidants, zinc, calcium, iron and potassium etc. It is extracted from the trunk and roots of the red or black maple trees.
Next time you find yourself in a dilemma where you need to choose between controlling diabetes or eating healthy, choose both with any of the above-mentioned alternatives in a restricted manner and in limited quantities. Make smart choices and live a healthy and safe life.