Exploring sugar alternatives
In the 1960s a war raged between saturated fat and sugar. Both industries were paying scientists exuberant amounts of money to downplay the effect of their substance on heart disease. Sugar won. fat was labelled the villain and marketing was quickly geared towards ‘FAT-FREE’ labels whilst sugar wore a smug grin on its face. And the industry wore this grin for decades to come.
Internal sugar industry documents were discovered in 2016 by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published in JAMA Internal Medicine that suggested five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including modern-day recommendations, may have largely been shaped by the sugar industry.
“[The sugar industry] were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades” said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F and an author of JAMA Internal Medicine paper.
Thankfully, sugar has now been exposed, which has given rise to some interesting alternatives that you can find in many foods and drinks today that want to keep their healthy-sweet-tooth customers around.
The stevia plant is native to Brazil and Paraguay. The plant is non-caloric, it’s safe for diabetic use and won’t contribute to obesity. You will often see stevia chewing gum as gum is a notorious area for high sugar levels.
Sourced from birch trees, xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is slightly lower in calories than sugar and doesn’t promote tooth decay. However, unlike Stevia it can cause sudden fluctuations in blood glucose.
Coconut sugar is unrefined, meaning it retains all of its vitamins and minerals and doesn’t lead to blood sugar fluctuations however diabetics should still consult a doctor before incorporating it into their diets. Unfortunately, it does have the same amount of calories as regular sugar.
Tips for reducing sugar
Have a bowl of fruit instead of a processed dessert
Put fruit on your cereal instead of eating sweetened cereals (you could even make your own cereal)
Snack on trail mix instead of sweets
Have a big breakfast – this helps reduce afternoon sugar cravings