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Industrial pastries, snacks, fruit yogurt, tomato sauce, cookies, soft drinks, sandwich bread, juice, chocolate, cereal… the list goes on. Not everyone realizes the copious amounts of sugar they consume on a daily basis. A simple slice of sandwich bread is equal to two cubes of sugar. The same amount is true in a glass of soda. The food industry has encouraged its use in most manufacturing processes, making it nearly impossible to avoid down the aisles of your local supermarket. However, there are alternatives to these sweeteners, it’s just about learning what foods we should eat and how we can prepare them ourselves in a healthy way.
Hidden sugars in everyday foods
Sugar or sucrose is made up of equal parts glucose and fructose. There are multiple derivatives, one being the massively used corn syrup which has a huge concentrate of fructose. Fructose is responsible for that sweet flavor that we associate with sugar, which actually isn’t very present in glucose. Which is why we don’t identify sugar consumption with foods like, tomato sauce, sandwich bread, rice, or pasta. We have sugar-laden products hiding all over our pantries that we don’t even realize. They are also usually the ones with the highest level of carbohydrates
Sugar consumption has become such the norm that we don’t even notice it in our own kitchens. Pre-cooked products, soft drinks, snacks like potato chips, cookies, pastries are all enemies of a healthy diet. Fructose causes our cells to age at an accelerated rate, and it also forms as fat in our liver, increasing our risk of diabetes. The worst part is it doesn’t even provide us with energy or any nutrients. Fructose is completely unnecessary.
Eating such large quantities of sugar on a daily basis is closely linked to the increase in obesity. And, as society moves to a faster, less thought-out, and cheaper diet it is bound to get worse. Some recent studies such as the ones carried out by the Institute of Hospital del Mar d’Investigations Mèdiques point to a massive increase in obesity and those who are overweight by 2030. And, data from OCDE or the National Institute of Statistics, have already calculated that currently, 17% of the Spanish population is obese. That percentage increases to 20% when we speak of children: which is perhaps not that surprising when we consider the number of sweets and fast foods they eat.
Alternative: Natural Sweeteners
Consuming sugar leads to cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. The need to reduce our intake of sugars helps to guarantee better long-term health. But, how do we do it? Obviously, we can’t give up sweetening certain dishes, or completely give up those sweets we love. This is why it’s important to discover natural alternatives to traditional white sugar and those used by the industrial food industry to natural alternatives that we usually already have at home.
Whole Fruit: The best natural sweetener is Fruit itself. Bananas, Mango, Pears, or Peaches are all great options. The problem is that we can’t always eat them alone. So, the next best thing is to add them to smoothies or even pastries. A good example is banana and egg pancakes, or banana and oatmeal pancakes. Another good idea is to make homemade preserves or sauces perfect with meats. Super sweet and not a gram of sugar!
Raw Honey: No need to do anything to it, it’s got all its vitamins and minerals ready to go. Of course, there are no additives and it’s a great antioxidant and has antibacterial properties. It’s a powerful sweetener as its glycemic level is high. It’s the perfect way to sweeten your coffee or greek yogurt.
Maple Syrup: When you think of Maple Syrup do you only think of pancakes? Of course, maple syrup on top of pancakes is delicious! But did you know that it’s also used to sweeten craft beers, wines, and coffee? It can even be added to sauces like mustard, or in jams. Maple syrup has an array of diverse uses.
Stevia: Natural stevia has a low glycemic index making it a good choice if you are trying to control your weight or for people with diabetes. It’s the best option to sweeten drinks, and can easily replace the sugar from industrial soft drinks. Just be sure to control the amounts you use at home, as stevia can have a bit of a bitter taste.
Unrefined Brown Sugar: It can be used in liquid or powdered form and is a bit stronger than the sugar we are generally used to. It’s most widely used in baking, but it also works well in fruit smoothies, coffee, or tea.
Coconut Sugar: Unlike unrefined brown sugar, the glycemic index level is much lower making the flavorless powerful. It’s the best option when wanting to give something a softer, less overpowering sweet taste. What’s more, is it contains minerals and B vitamins.
We challenge you: One sugar-free day
We know it’s not easy to switch up our habits overnight, but we think if you try you will realize it isn’t as hard as we think. It’s really about learning to buy those more natural products, the ones that aren’t flooded with sugar during the manufacturing process. It’s also about getting more comfortable with our own culinary skills to help stop the need for those unhealthy, commercial, ready-to-go products.
Breakfasts and Desserts: Throw away those store-bought, boxed, industrial cereals, muffins, and pastries. Fruit, Nut Granola is perfect to have with milk or yogurt, and you can throw in some real fruit or top it off with some maple syrup. You can also make some Homemade Sugar-free muffins, or pancakes and waffles. And, if you’re more the traditional type, try some delicious oatmeal banana cookies.
Mid-Morning or Afternoon Snacks: Forget about chocolates and industrial sweets. You can make your own chocolate at home, or buy the one with the highest percentage of cacao. We also highly recommend eating organic energy bars that help give you strength throughout the day. Any seed or nut-based snack is also great. Don’t miss our List of Healthy Snacks!
Drinks: Say goodbye to soft drinks and those premade coffees loaded with cream and chocolate. Smoothies whether fruit-based or veggie-based are filling, and refreshing. Teas hot or cold, also provide many benefits to our bodies. Discover some of our newest products like fermented tea or kombucha.
Bread: Bread is a must-have for many people at lunch or dinner. A delicious homemade bread can be made from quinoa or almond flour, or even tapioca. When baking this add home, you can even add a touch of parmesan cheese, seeds, oregano, or turmeric…
Dishes with a sweet touch: A salty dish like meat or fish, doesn’t have to mean you need to give up sweet taste. Nut creams and Fruit-based sauces pair great with these traditionally salty dishes.
Are you convinced by our alternatives? If so, don’t miss out on these easy, healthy recipes:
Gluten-Free Muffins with Red Fruit
Banana, lemon, oatmeal cookies with Vanilla
Crispy Salmon with Almond Sauce
Foie on crispy cauliflower with an apricot jam
Gluten-Free Sandwich bread
Banana bread with Hazelnut spread and superfoods