Sugar consumption is a difficult habit to control, many times because its intake goes unnoticed since it is hidden in different products.
One way to start limiting it in the diet is by substituting the one we intentionally add, for example, in coffee, for healthier options. Here we review which sweeteners you can include in your diet and what their properties are.
Coffee is a beverage obtained from the roasted and ground beans of the fruit of the coffee tree (Coffee). It is highly stimulating due to its important content of caffeine, a psychoactive substance.
Along with water and tea, coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world, and, therefore, one of the most studied by science. The available evidence indicates that its consumption is linked to these benefits:
- Help lose weight.
- Improve performance.
- Improve mood.
- Improve kidney function.
- Optimize concentration.
- Prevent diabetes.
- Protect cardiovascular health.
- Protect the liver.
- Slow down cell damage (thanks to its rich antioxidant content).
All these benefits can be obtained as long as coffee is consumed in moderation, that is, between 3 and 4 cups a day (which represents an intake of approximately 400 mg of caffeine).
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Another factor that can affect the properties of coffee is the way it is consumed, especially if sugar is added.
Consuming too much added sugar also has serious health consequences. In addition to the known possibility of increasing or making it more difficult to control diabetes, it can contribute to:
- development of heart disease
- Caries formation.
- Higher levels of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
What sweeteners to use in coffee
In order not to lose the properties of coffee and avoid the problems caused by frequent intake of added sugar, you can use other natural sweeteners, that is, substances that serve to give a sweet taste to a food or product that has a bitter taste:
Stevia is a natural sweetener obtained from the leaves of the plant. Stevia rebaudiana. It is an attractive and healthy option to replace sugar because it has no calories and has much sweeter glycosides than sucrose.
Different studies even linked its intake with certain health benefits, such as lower blood pressure or lower risk of diabetes.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that only has 6% of the calories of regular sugar. It is considered an excellent substitute since its flavor is practically the same, which makes it easy to change.
Because the body does not have the necessary enzymes to break it down, erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream and eliminated in the urine without causing harmful effects to the body.
Comes from certain plant species Agave. It is composed mainly of glucose and fructose.
It has a consistency similar to honey and is slightly sweeter than sugar, although it has a lower glycemic index (a measure of how quickly a food can raise blood glucose levels).
It is often associated with various health benefits, although there is not enough scientific evidence to support them.
Maple syrup is obtained by cooking the sap of maple trees, and is notable for its rich content of minerals, such as calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and zinc, and a wide variety of antioxidant compounds.
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Its glycemic index is only slightly lower than sugar, so while it won’t cause the same effects as sugar, it can be harmful in excess. It is best to incorporate it sparingly.
As its name implies, yacon syrup is extracted from the yacon plant (Smallanthus sonchifolius).
It has a honey-like consistency, though dark in color, and only one-third the calories of regular sugar. It has been linked to different benefits, such as weight and appetite control, and the stimulation of the intestinal microbiota.
Lucuma is the fruit of the lúcumo (Pouteria lucuma). It is similar to the avocado, with a tough green skin that covers a dry, yellowish flesh.
It is rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, and although it is characterized by its sweet taste, it has a low glycemic index, making it suitable for people with diabetes.
This fruit can be difficult to obtain, so it is generally consumed in powder form, which is added to beverages for flavoring.
Honey is composed of 80% natural sugars, 18% water and 2% minerals, vitamins, and proteins. Although honey contains calories, it is healthier than sugar due to its higher nutritional composition and antibacterial properties.
Xylitol, or “wood sugar,” is another sugar alcohol that was found in the fibers of birch bark.
Recent studies have helped to consolidate it as a great substitute for sugar, since it has a lower glycemic index, 40% fewer calories and benefits for health, such as the inhibition of bacteria that cause cavities or an increase in calcium absorption.
Why include sweeteners?
Replacing sugar with one of the previously developed sweeteners can be useful for:
- control diabetesSweeteners: Thanks to their lower glycemic index, many sweeteners are useful in helping to control blood sugar levels.
- Lose weightSweeteners previously developed provide less or no energy than sugar, thus helping to prevent problems associated with excessive calorie intake, including being overweight or obese.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, but first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.