Six sugar alternatives worth considering. By Estelle Low
Sugar is fast becoming the main culprit for chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that people who got 10 to 24 per cent of their calories from added sugar were 30 per cent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who consumed less. Sugar may increase inflammation as well as raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels, says author Dr Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.
Look for these sugar substitutes instead.
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Sugar Substitute: Stevia
One of the most popular sugar alternatives (especially among diabetics), studies show that this naturally-derived, zero-calorie sweetener helps to reduce blood sugar levels.
Made from Leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant, pictured.
Taste Up to 300 times sweeter than white, refined sugar.
How to use stevia Add 1g packet of powdered stevia to a cup of tea or coffee.
Sugar Substitute: Maple Syrup
It has fewer calories than white sugar and contains antioxidants and minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium.
Made from Maple tree sap.
Taste Like honey but less sweet.
How to use maple syrup Depending on its grade, the syrup can be used for food dressing (grade A) and baking (B).
Sugar Substitute: Agave Nectar
Ranking lower than most sweeteners on the glycaemic index, it causes a smaller spike in blood sugar levels.
Made from The agave plant.
Taste Like honey but more delicate.
How to use agave nectar It’s almost thrice as sweet as white sugar, so use sparingly. Substitute one cup sugar with one-third cup agave nectar in drinks and desserts. Reduce other liquids in your recipe by three tablespoons.
Sugar Substitute: Coconut Sugar
Provides small amounts of vitamin C, minerals and phytonutrients.
Made from Coconut plant sap.
Taste Similar to brown sugar, but with a hint of caramel.
How to use coconut sugar These fine crystals are great in sweet and savoury dishes.
Sugar Substitute: Longan Honey
A source of vitamins and amino acids as well as minerals, it is said to benefit those with allergies and flu.
Made from Longan flower nectar.
Taste Mildly sweet and slightly minty.
How to use longan honey Same as honey.
Sugar Substitute: Sugarcane Extract Derivative
This has no calories at all.
Made from Sugarcane extract and distilled water.
Taste Clean and smooth.
How to use sugarcane extract derivative One drop is as sweet as two teaspoons of white sugar.
Next: What about dextrose and maltose?