Previous articles on the sugar story series talked about the detrimental effects of white sugar on our body. Successively expounding on the ubiquitous presence of white sugar and the ill effects of the refining processes that turn it harmful. These articles suggest an alternate way of living, one that is free of white sugar in our diets. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up ever tasting sweet again, but replace refined sugar with healthy alternatives given in this article. You can read the entire Sugar story series here, Part I, Part II, and Part III
Alternatives to White Sugar
Sugarcane juice – Crushed sugar cane unrefined and devoid of chemicals. It has a low GI number. It contains antioxidants and minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, protein, and other electrolytes. It is good for the liver, aids kidneys and used for curing common cold and infections. It improves bowel movement. It is a sustainable product because its fibrous mass can be used for fuel, making paper, or insulation and some countries use it to make alcohol. This would be a good substitute in baked goods.
Dehydrated sugar cane juice – Dried whole sugar cane in a granulated form which contains all the molasses. It also goes by the trade name Sucanat.
Dehydrated fruit juice – When the liquid is removed from the fruit and either citric acid or sucrose (a sugar) is added.
Unrefined Cane Sugar – Similar to true cane juice and is high in antioxidants. It prevents free radicals and protects from toxins in the environment. It is available in India. It is used in the care of jaundice and liver issues. It may protect the body from DNA damage caused by radiation. It also has fiber and environmentally friendly. It takes less energy to process it and there are fewer waste products from it. It has no chemicals or gases added. It can be called, “organic cane sugar’ when grown organically without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Muscovado Sugar or Barbados sugar – They are less refined cane sugars, which uses lime or another acid in the processing of it. This also doesn’t go through heat or centrifuging. This is less bleached so it is more eco-friendly,
Raw Cane Sugar – This has No Phosphorus Acid, it is less refined than white sugar, and retains some of the molasses and moisture from the plant. You can make rock sugar from this.
Lucuma Powder – It’s a fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree native to South America. It has served as a traditional remedy for centuries containing: fiber which prevents constipation and helps the gut bacteria. It is an anti-inflammatory and helps people with IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; protects against free radicals, against cancer and heart issues. Its yellow color is good for the eyes. It’s a complex sugar and therefore may help to stabilize blood sugar levels. It contains nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, niacin and Vitamin C. You can eat it raw or as a powder. It is dehydrated at below 45 degrees and therefore considered a raw product and it is only milled to turn it into a powder. Lucuma powder is free of any other ingredient. I think I would like to try this myself.
Monk fruit Sweetener – It is also called Monk fruit extract. Its benefits are that it natural and have antioxidants, which give it its sweetness. It is produced by removing its seeds and skin and crushing the fruit into a juice and then dried into a concentrated powder. But you have to be careful for it is usually cut with another sweetener such as dextrose, erythritol, maltitol, etc. The Monk juice concentrate doesn’t list other ingredients.
Agava nectar – This comes the agave plant. It is primarily fructose so there is a higher risk of fatty liver disease according to one report. This same report says it is insulin resistance and may impair blood sugar control in the long run; it may increase triglyceride levels, which are a factor to heart issues. Its GI is 15.
Oligosaccharides – They are an alternative to sugar. One example is fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Oligosaccharides are obtained by extraction from natural sources (milk, vegetables, fruits), and by chemical (enzymes are used) or biotechnological processes. It is prebiotic and benefits the good bacteria and therefore benefits the gut. One example of fructooligosaccharides is Yacon. It comes from South America and it is made from the Yacon tuber which grows in Peru. The root can be eaten raw. The tuber is ground down to extract the juice which is then heated to reduce the moisture content. It does not use chemicals during its separation and only requires a spray drying material. It contains inulin and is a fiber and medically it’s used to eliminate constipation, but can lead to loose stools if used in excess. Because it causes fermentation in the gut it can lead to gas and bloating. It comes in powders and extracts.
Sweeteners classified as Sugars Alcohol
Sorbitol(Glucitol) – It is a sugar alcohol and has laxative stimulating effects on the digestive tract and for people with Irritable Bowl Systems it may create diarrhea, gas or bloating.(India code is E420). It can re-mineralize minor enamel defects in teeth. Its GI is 4.
Xylitol – It can fight cavities and re-mineralize minor enamel defects in teeth, benefits diabetes and metabolic syndrome, prevents ear and upper respiratory infections and strengthens bones. Xylitol is naturally found in fruits and vegetables and is extracted from the birch trees. One disadvantage is that it has a laxative effect and can cause digestive disturbances like gas, constipation, stomach pain, and diarrhea in people who have IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome.). PLEASE NOTE IT IS TOXIC TO DOGS. (India’s code is E976.) Its GI is 12.
Erythritol – It is a natural product found in some fruits and mushrooms and is produced commercially by the fermentation of plant sugars. The GI is 1. It’s the major ingredient in Truvia sweetener (from the Coca Cola Company) which also contains stevia. And in PureVia (from the Pepsi Company) which also contains stevia. Side effects include digestive problems like gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, especially if a person has irritable Bowel Syndrome. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, laxative, and anxiety because of stomach issues. It can come from GMO corn starch making, and therefore it is not eco-friendly. (India’s coded is E968.). But it can come from Non-GMO sources also.
Glycerol or Glycerin or Glycerine – It is an animal fat so it is not for vegetarians and its side effects include: cramps, flatulence and even diarrhea. (India’s code is E422).
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH) – Are produced by the partial hydrolysis of different starches such as corn starch, potato starch or wheat starch. It does not promote dental cavities, but it can cause a laxative effect. This process produces a mixture of sorbitol, maltitol, and maltotriose. The Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates name is used when there is no dominate polyol. If the polyol is more than 50% it can be labeled sorbitol syrup or maltitol syrup, etc.