We all need some sugar in our diet to help fuel our bodies. But some forms of sugar are better for us than others.
Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as fructose in fruits and lactose in dairy products. Refined sugars come from foods that have been processed for the purpose of extracting sugars. Most people consume too much refined sugar and that can be dangerous for our health.
Our bodies digest refined sugars very quickly, so we don’t feel full afterwards and our blood sugar levels spike. This then makes us crave more sugar. By contrast, fruit contains fibre which slows our digestion and makes us feel full.
Refined sugar goes by many names. Many of us are not aware that most of the processed or packaged foods we consume have some form of refined sugar in them. This can mean we’re consuming more sugar than we need which can contribute to weight gain and diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Switching to natural sugars can help you monitor and reduce your sugar consumption. And they can offer other benefits. Avoid packages foods and, when you need something a little sweeter, try these natural sugar alternatives:
• Fruits – naturally sweet fruits such as dates and bananas are great to add into baking and smoothies and they contain antioxidants.
• Raw honey – single sourced honey has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
• Organic coconut sugar – coming from the sap of coconut blossoms, it contains fibre and nutrients such as iron and zinc.
• Pure maple syrup – extracted by boiling maple tree sap, natural maple syrup has less fructose than other sweeteners and is rich in antioxidants.
• Monk fruit – this Southeast Asian fruit has a natural antioxidant compound and zero calories.