Refined Sugar - Why It Is Bad for You and Top Alternatives

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Happy occasions are always graced with a sweetmeat, and we relish them with so much joy! But these sweets always come with that uneasy feeling of guilt. A sedentary lifestyle, high risk of heart diseases coupled with stress, have compelled us to keep a tab on our sugar intake.

Sweet lovers out there, there is nothing wrong with consuming sweets, if only you do so in the right proportions. And, today we will discuss the culprit named - refined sugar. This kind of sugar is commonly used in the preparation of almost every sweet out there.

What is Refined Sugar?

Refined sugar is typically extracted from sugarcane or any other plant with naturally occurring sugar, and undergoes processing for refining, which includes washing, drying, cooling, and packaging to convert them into crystals. The most common form is the table sugar that has made its way onto our kitchen shelves.

In short, thanks to the processing, the natural sugar is stripped off all vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other beneficial compounds. While it adds taste to our everyday food items, our body does not derive any nutrition from refined sugar; hence its consumption is not recommended by nutritionists. Instead, since it gets digested quickly, our body craves for it more.

In fact, the WHO recommends the consumption of not more than 6 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar every day. Many carbonated drinks contain a high level of sugar. In short, we end up consuming refined sugar a lot more than we think. According to experts, overconsumption of sugar may lead to obesity, promote the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and increase the risk of heart diseases. Additionally, it may cause an unnatural rise in the blood sugar level.

What Foods Contain Refined Sugar?

It is commonly found in highly processed foods such as cakes, pastries, sodas, and ice creams. Additionally, we use it in everyday preparations too. So, inadvertently we end up consuming a high amount of sugar.

While avoiding sugary food completely is impractical, we can look out for ways that can make our lives easy and can enjoy our sweets without worrying about the sucrose content. There are various alternatives to refined sugar that you can opt for instead. Let’s look at some of them –

Top Alternatives to Refined Sugar

Jaggery

One of the most common alternatives, and traditionally used in India for many preparations, jaggery or gur, is rich in essential nutrients. It contains laxatives that help in preventing constipation and cleans the body. Additionally, it is known to promote weight loss.

Honey

Apart from adding that much-needed sweetness to your preparations, organic honey bestows you with countless benefits. Highly rich in antioxidants, honey can improve cholesterol levels and promote healing of wounds. However, caution must be exercised before its consumption as many adulterated versions of honey containing sugar syrup are available in the market.

Coconut Sugar

Derived from coconut palm sap, this sugar closely resembles table sugar. However, it is quite different than in terms of nutrients. It has higher levels of zinc, iron, and calcium. Coconut palm sugar can also help manage weight, increase blood circulation, lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, improve digestion, prevent digestion, and boost energy.

Dates

This superfood is the perfect alternative for sugar. It can improve blood sugar balance, boost memory, and is a rich source of antioxidants. You can make lip-smacking preparations with dates, which can prove to be the perfect snack to boost your energy whenever hunger pangs trouble you.

Maple Syrup

Made from the sap of the sugar maple trees, this rich sweetener is commonly consumed with pancakes. Against refined sugar, it is loaded with minerals and vitamins. However, it is also high in sucrose levels – so, it must be consumed in moderation.

Apart from these, you can even opt for various artificial sweeteners as sugar alternatives. But, make sure that you talk to a medical practitioner before you opt for these.

These alternatives are perfect for adding sweetness to your lives without those extra calories. If you've successfully used any of these to make your sweet preparations – do let us know in the comment section below!

Also Read : Simple Ways to Eliminate Refined Carbs from Your Diet