Sugar has become a constant companion in most of our lives. Whether in the form of spoonfuls added to your tea or coffee, or the massive amounts included in soft drinks and processed foods, sugar dominates our diet. With Britain’s obesity and diabetic levels rising there is a need for the healthier alternative. However, many sugar substitutes are synthetics and are worse for us than real sugar as the body cannot break them down. Some of these synthetics – aspartame and acesulfame-K to name just two – have been linked to cancer.
However, there are two alternatives which I would recommend:
Stevia: A herb native to South American, Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used as a sweetener for centuries in South America, and in Japan, makes up 41 per cent of the sweetener market. So widespread is its use, before Coca Cola decided to ‘standardise’ the recipe, Stevia was used in Japanese Diet Coke. The herb recently ran into trouble in the US with the Food and Drug Administration over the label ‘sweetener’ but has rebounded to become the second most popular sugar alternative in the US under the term ‘dietary supplement’. Stevia has no calories and no glycaemic impact making it suitable for diabetics as well as those watching their weight.
Xylitol: If the name rings a bell, that’s because you can already find it in chewing gum. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar (five carbon atoms in the molecule) unlike most other sugars, which have six. This subtle difference means it helps prevent the growth of bacteria. It is found naturally in fibrous fruits and vegetables, corn cobs, and some hardwood trees - even our own bodies produce it. Although it does cost more than sugar, it’s a healthier alternative.
Both of the above are good to cook with and the family will never know the difference!! Stay Sweet!
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